Home News Center NJJN Celebrates Native American Heritage Month - November 2020

NJJN Celebrates Native American Heritage Month - November 2020

October 29, 2020
Julianna Cann

November is National Native American Heritage Month! 

This month, we are celebrating National Native American Heritage Month. As we work towards a transformed youth justice system that prioritizes families and well-being, it is imperative that we place the voices of those most affected at the forefront of our conversations. We must also actively work to tear down the social structures in place that disproportionately harm Native American communities, acknowledging their rich history, diversity, and resilienceWe encourage you to read the following articles to begin conversations around Native American history, identity and advocacy.    

Native American Youth and the Legal System 

Native Youth Navigate Complex, Contradictory Jurisdictions, Cronkite News, 2020. 

According to the Sentencing Project, Native American youth are three times more likely to be imprisoned than their white counterparts. Part of the problem is the multi-jurisdictional web of legal systems Native American youth have to navigate. This Cronkite News article explores the "jurisdictional web” Native American justice-involved youth are forced to navigate. Read the full story here.  

American Indian/Alaska Native Youth & Status Offense Disparities, 2012. 

The Coalition for Juvenile Justice and the Tribal Law and Policy Institute published research on the relationship between the youth justice system and Native American and Alaska Native youth in this report. Most notably, they found that Native American and Alaska Native youth are twice as likely to be petitioned to state court for status offenses, or offenses that are only due to the age of the person involved. Even further, these children are then more likely to face detention or residential placement, with a lower likelihood of receiving probation. Research to identify these disparities is essential in order to work to eliminate them. Read more here. 

Native American Identity 

Who Is Native American, And Who Decides That? NPR, 2012. 

Indigenous identity has often been a source of debate, largely due to efforts to suppress tribal citizenship through blood quantum measurements. This NPR podcast clip discusses the intricate definitions of Native American identity with Professor Anton Treuer of Bemidji State University, exploring what it means to be Native American in our current climate. Listen or read the transcript here. 

Native Americans fight to be counted in US census, The Guardian2020. 

The Census has historically neglected, undercounted, and forgotten Native American communities, however it is an essential tool for getting resources and assistance to Native American communities. Read how Native American leaders have been working to ensure tribal communities are counted in the 2020 census. Read more here. 

Native American Advocacy 

7 Young Indigenous Activists Standing Up For Their Communities, Do Something 2020. 

Indigenous youth are often the unheard voices in activist organizations. Faced with some of the harshest realities of climate change and injustice, Native American youth have risen up to takthese challenges face on. Read more about some incredible work that young Indigenous activists have been doing here. 

The Native History of Indigenous Peoples Day, Yes!, 2020. 
Today, many states and places of employment (including NJJN) are recognizing the holiday traditionally known as Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples Day. However, getting Indigenous Peoples Day widely acknowledged is a result of years of advocacy by Native American communities. Learning the history of the movement to establish Indigenous Peoples day recognizes the importance of Native American resistance and resilience, showing that advocacy continues to serve as a vital tool for social change. Read more here 

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