Policing American Indians : A Unique Chapter in American Jurisprudence book cover
1st Edition

Policing American Indians
A Unique Chapter in American Jurisprudence

ISBN 9780367871727
Published December 10, 2019 by Routledge
199 Pages

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Book Description

Bias, prejudice, and corruption riddle the history of US jurisprudence. Policing American Indians: A Unique Chapter in American Jurisprudence explores these injustices, specifically the treatment of American Indians. A mix of academic research as well as field experience, this book draws on author Laurence French’s more than 40 years of experience with American Indian individuals and groups. It illustrates how, despite changes in the law to correct past injustices, a subculture of discrimination often persists in law enforcement, whether by a prosecutor or a street cop.

The book provides specific examples of the role of police in extra-legal confrontations with American Indians, as well as examples of using the US military to police American Indians. It covers the ways in which US policy regarding American Indians has changed since the country’s birth, including recent changes in policy as a response to issues of national security following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Policing American Indians takes an interdisciplinary approach that includes criminology, sociology, anthropology, cultural psychology, and historical analysis of geopolitics. It challenges actual historical practices of the basic concepts of due process and justice for all espoused by the American criminal justice system. It also adds a nuanced cultural dimension to the history of policing in American history to give you a more detailed image of unjust behavior in the history of American criminal justice.

Table of Contents

Introduction. Aboriginal Justice Model: The Harmony Ethos. Euro-American Indigenous Relations, Policies, and Control (1675-1975). Examples of Police Abuse Toward American Indians. Policing the Americas: Enforcing Manifest Destiny and the Monroe Doctrine. The Contemporary Situation.

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Laurence Armand French, PhD, is a researcher and affiliate professor of the Justiceworks Institute of the University of New Hampshire. He earned his PhD in sociology from the University of New Hampshire and his PhD in cultural psychology from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He is professor emeritus of psychology at Western New Mexico University, a member of several societies, a veteran of the US Marine Corps, and a licensed clinical psychologist. He won the 2014 McGraw Hill Distinguished Scholar Award and has over 280 publications, including 15 books. His major research areas are international and comparative social, human, and criminal justice; Native American and minority issues; police and criminal psychology; and neuro-, clinical, and forensic psychology.


French (Univ. of New Hampshire) undertakes the task of tracing the application of social control of Native Americans by the dominant society. While the focus is billed to be “policing,” and, indeed, the book culminates in what one may most accurately consider “policing,” the author tracks the historical application of broader mechanisms of social control. In this sense, the book is less about law enforcement and more about “policing” in its broader context. French begins by defining that broader application of “policing,” then describes Indigenous social control using four Native American tribes as examples. He then describes, again in broad terms, the methods of colonization and acculturation used by European and US governments. That discussion brings readers to relatively modern times, when the topic turns to law enforcement, the abuses of Native Americans at the hands of police officers, and the use of law enforcement to advance Manifest Destiny and other aspects of colonialism. Finally, French addresses recent years, describing the impact of NAFTA and 911 on Indian Country and the enforcement of laws. A succinct but important, well-written, and far-reaching book.

--F. E. Knowles, Valdosta State University

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries.
From CHOICE connect, A publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries