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Police are Killing Native Americans at Higher Rate than Any Race, and Nobody is Talking About It


Americans are up in arms right now over the near epidemic number of deaths of African-American at the hands of police, and rightfully so. African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the population, yet they are the victims in 26 percent of all police shootings. That is nearly 3 times the rate of whites.

The outrage by the #Black Lives Matter movement is founded in statistical evidence which shows that the system inherently and with extreme bias disproportionately targets blacks.

That being said, there is one group who no one is talking about that is targeted more than everyone else. The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans. While Native Americans only make up 0.8 percent of the population, they make up 1.9 percent of all police killings.

According to a report by the Lakota People’s Law Project, 

Despite gaining citizenship rights in 1924, Native Americans have yet to see the day that they enjoy benefits of a nation which boasts “liberty and justice for all.”

Unsettling reports of unfair treatment towards Native peoples by law enforcement are not isolated incidents—rather they are endemic of a deeply discriminatory justice system. Native American men are admitted to prison at four times the rate of white men and Native women at six-fold the rate of white women. Additionally, Native Americans are the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement.

Where is the outrage in the media for Native Americans?

It’s certainly not due to the lack of protests by the #NativeLivesMatter movement, as there are many of those. In fact, several of the Native American activists within the movement have been killed by police, causing even more outrage in the community.


Earlier this month, Native American activist, Rexdale W. Henry, 53, was arrested for failure to pay a traffic fine. Five days later, on July 14, Henry would be found dead in a Neshoba County, Mississippi jail cell.

Just days before Henry’s tragic death, another Native American woman was found dead in a jail cell. She was arrested for an alleged bond violation over a traffic charge. Sarah Lee Circle Bear was heard by her cellmates screaming for help prior to being found unresponsive in her cell.

On July 12, Paul Castaway, a Native American who suffered from schizophrenia, was gunned down by police. According to witnesses, he was holding a knife to his own throat during an episode when police shot and killed him.

Last December, 30-year-old Allen Locke was shot and killed by police, just one day after attending a protest against police brutality. Locke is a Native-American man who attended a #NativeLivesMatter rally that was being held locally.

Native American children are also victims of the state as a recent report from TruthOut pointed out earlier this month. According to the report, in South Dakota, Indigenous children make up 15 percent of the child population, but comprise more than half the children in foster care.

In order to profit off of the kidnapping of these children, South Dakota has claimed 100% of its foster children as ‘special needs’ for the past ten years in order to reel in extra money. The child “protective” system in South Dakota is incentivized by a $79,000 bonus per Native child. 

The situation is nothing short of modern day human trafficking and murder, yet the media is silent. Why?

The answer to that question is not a simple one. However, one potential aspect of why the media and the government do not address the disproportionate targeting of natives by the state, is that it’s not divisive enough.

The Black Lives Matter movement has been used by the government and MSM to stoke a level of divide which hasn’t existed in this country since the days of Jim Crow. This divide is a necessary function of controlled media and it’s an essential part of the state’s existence.

#NativeLivesMatter doesn’t foster the same divide, therefore it’s not important to the establishment. However, it is important to those of us who care about the suffering and death of our fellow humans.

The good news is that through the power of social media, together we can shed light on these injustices. By sharing these stories and the work of the Lakota People’s Law Project, we can help to change this paradigm.

  • Patricia Heath

    The reason Black Lives Matter works is because first of all, there are more of us. We are in the urban areas of just about every state. Second, we have that long standing feud with whites, and whites have so many stereotypical views of us. The get riled up when our issues are in the papers and on the news. That means they buy more papers and watch the news to see how things will play out. So the media plays it up. You have to find the thing that’s going to make white people sit up and pay attention. You have to find the thing that is going to strike a nerve with white people. And you must understand that this will not get you justice. It will bring attention to your plight, sure. But the killings and other injustices will continue, even the ones caught on video. That’s what’s been happening to us. Make a coalition with Black Lives Matter, poor whites and whoever else you can get with. That will make up for your numbers. That’s what the Black Panthers did. But that’s when the government started assassinating them, so be careful.

  • Roberto Cintli Rodriguez

    Yes. agree with much of the comment below. That is, it’s primarily a media issue. I have tracked this violence on this continent going back to 1492 against the red-black-popilations of this country. Here is a 15-minute video I compiled re this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G2ZAwKOCKA&feature=youtu.be

    • Patricia Heath

      Just…wow. And at the end with the mass graves tho…

  • Elise Monroe

    They should join us in the fight.

  • Tom Codie

    Though all the deaths are tragic you missed some very important data points. A racial bias breaks down when you realize that African Americans contribute 50% of all homicides. It seems that with this information they would have more interaction with police and therefore a higher instance of death by police. It should also be pointed out that out of the 35 million encounters with police only around 20 thousand are reported as excessive force and out of those only 8% are substantiated. Less that 2000 people are abused by police a year. this is hardly a epidemic by any stretch of the imagination.

    • You still do not get it or wha this article is about

      • Tom Codie

        I get the article it still is not a epidemic.

        • Romi Elnagar

          Try going onto a “rez” sometime and maybe you will think differently. It would be an “opportunity” to learn.

          • Tom Codie

            I was born 20 minutes from Wounded Knee.

    • Tammy Jeanetta Scott

      I think you’ve missed an intrinsic piece of information Tom, the reason, or at least part of the reason that there are such high statistics for African American and Native American it is
      often because the police pick on minorities that they come in to
      contact with. The chances of a white man getting stopped and searched or
      questioned is much less likely that a black or Native American, there is
      clearly unfair bias there. Americans obviously have less respect for
      minorities; hence they committed genocide to claim Native American land
      as their own, on top of that forcing them to integrate into a society
      that see’s them as 2nd class citizens, and forcing them to speak English
      only and wear western clothing. If you don’t think that the wiping out
      of a nation of people, and then continuing to single them out and offer
      them less opportunities is an epidemic, then you my friend are sadly
      mistaken. Perhaps Native Americans are just a reminder to some Americans
      of the fact that their Nation was born of genocide? I hope they get the
      coverage and acknowledgement they deserve; the rest of the world is
      really starting to wake up to the awful inequalities that are so rife in

      • Tom Codie

        Every nation on earth was conquered. The inhabitants either assimilated or were slowly pushed out or overtaken. Tragic yes, but not unique. Now you have people who claim they are afforded no opportunities yet will not move to areas where opportunities exist. These people cluster in groups and in neighborhoods due to common ancestry. When there is crime in these areas the police will most likely run into criminals who have the same ancestry and therefore will have a higher percentage of interaction with them. Now when you actually look at the stats you find that per capita blacks commit more murders. And the majority of those are against other blacks. Same holds true for natives. You will also see that natives and others present as a couple percentage points. Maybe 10 people annually and that number is declining. When people truly want change they make that change for themselves. Do you want more opportunity. Either create a business where you are or move to where the opportunity exists. It is upon you to do it. Now none of this is meant to excuse abhorrent behavior from anyone. Prejudice exists everywhere. The police are not immune however to say all police are racist or that it is epidemic is woefully inaccurate.

  • Krissi Healy

    This is so sad. Thank you for bringing this story to light. I struggle with the upheaval in our current day, and I am a believer in statistics. What can I do, as a common citizen, to help?

  • Incorrect. Quit bending the stats. PER PEOPLE KILLED, Whites are killed more by cops. That’s how you do it. not based on the population.

    • Rick McCallister

      LMAO oh my god, no. Get into even a beginner’s prob & stats class please. Per capita is the metric you use when determining rates of occurrence. You should be ashamed of not knowing this. It’s high school stuff.

      • Yes I know Statistics as well as Trigonometry, Calculus, Physics, Micro and Macro Economics. I know what im talking about. Statistics is bendable because you can distort the truth using any base kinda like what they do with polling.

        • Rick McCallister

          No you don’t. IF you did, you’d know that per-capita is the metric for rates of occurrence. Sit down, you don’t have the knowledge you’d need to lie to me effectively. You don’t know shit.

          • Per capita is used as a whole. it’s not per capita[of select race of people]. I’m not blinded by racism and BS. But it doesn’t matter what I say you still will act superior it’s ok keyboard warrior I know the truth.

      • Well Meaning

        you also have to figure in what percentage of them commit crimes. when you do, white people are more likely to get shot than any other race.

  • Anna

    That’s terrible and I was not aware of it. Whenever there is a police shooting black people march they make videos go viral. We have BLM because of all of the police brutality. They have to speak up for themselves.

  • Rick McCallister

    The 15-19 age group is completely missing for Native Americans, in the report linked by this story. If we’re trying to do an apples-to-apples comparison, we need the information for Native Americans from 15-19.

    As it stands right now, the overall percentage is close enough that a large deviation in that single data point makes a big difference. We’re only averaging over 4 figures here per race, that’s a massive point not to include.

  • Maya R

    What other people classified as a “Race” don’t understand is that when we speak about black injustices we’re really talking about all people of color. Unfortunately other people of color don’t really think of us as their brothers and sisters, the sad part is that they are prejudice against us as well.

    • Robin

      ALL people are brothers and sisters, so I’m white and the enemy? So it’s everyone against whitey? That sounds more like an epidemic against white people. And I’ve experienced it so I really don’t want to hear any lip. Too young, too white, a girl, blah blah blah. Color, white is a color. My best friend for a spell was black, her other friends didn’t much like me, I had no color.

      • Maya R

        Ummmm actually Robin you/your race weren’t/wasn’t even a factor in my comment. I was speaking of other people of color. I’m not your child so me giving you “lip” is not even possible. Furthermore if it were everyone against whitey on my end then that would mean that I was against my grandfather, my sister, my sister-in law and my nieces and nephews. Now how much sense would that make? Lastly, RACIST white people are the only white people I take up issue with.

  • ConsciouBlkMAN

    I don’t like it. I think the article puts natives against blacks instead of dealing with this crisis that the white power structure is putting on native peoples. Also. Native Americans who live in the “RESERVATION” are experiencing different things than Natives living in the general populations. They are not always “NATIVE” looking and self identifying as people of color (similar to Hispanics). This is quite different for African Americans. With that said, instead of writing articles that accuses blacks for getting “TOO” much attention, you should focus on the people you “SUPPOSEDLY” care about. It makes you sound like a DIVIDER and putting NATIVES against blacks. It is a RACIST tactic that many whites used to cause people of color to fight each other instead of addressing white racism and supremacy.

  • ConsciouBlkMAN

    If the author of this article really cared about Natives, he/she would have listed Native organizations that is trying to deal with this issue. That way outside black and white activists would be able to form alliance with them. But this article was not written to address the issue, but to cast blame on African Americans. This is definitive how white supremacist do things.

    • Romi Elnagar

      Why don’t you dig up the names of those organizations yourself and help instead of just sitting around nitpicking?
      And BTW, your idea that this article about casting blame on African Americans shows how little of it you understood.

  • Alan Chandler

    I thought the police on the reservation were Natives? Instead of enforcing drug laws the government should put their resource into treatment and education.