Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Second Edition
Edited By Anthony J. Nocella II, Priya Parmar and David Stovall
Chapter Six: Red Road Lost: A Story Based on True Events
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In all of the states with relatively high American Indian populations, incarceration rates of Indians average four times that of non-Indians. For example, in Montana, American Indians are 6% of the population, but represent more than 20% of the people in prison. American Indian women represent the same 6% of the population but make up 32% of incarcerated women in the state. Indians across the nation also receive relatively longer sentences and have significantly higher suicide rates (Wagner, 2004).1 With Indians having the highest school dropout rates of any minority group, the school to prison pipeline is of major concern. In South Dakota, the statistics are about the same as Montana’s, and after living there and working as Dean of Education of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, I saw a number of “pipeline” stories throughout the state. In this chapter, I use the facts surrounding a number of cases to form a narrative that combines them into one story. The story itself is fictional but the individual facts and their consequences are not.
The phone was on its third ring, and too early for a Sunday morning call. Mary Red Plume considered not answering it. She had been awake and warm ← 102 | 103 → under the covers, working up the gumption to get out of bed in the freezing trailer to start a fire in the stove. She could barely imagine how cold were her friends and relatives who lived in much older...