Methamphetamine and Native Americans

Methamphetamine and Native Americans

Methamphetamine has become a major concern among the Native Americans within the last decade. Tribal leaders and reservation police departments consider the epidemic the largest threat to public safety and attribute higher rates of domestic violence, assaults, burglaries, and child abuse and neglect on reservations to the drug.[1][2]



Methamphetamine's westward spread from California included most of Indian Country; however, due to the nature of the substance, it is created independently in labs on tribal lands and surrounding areas, as well. As in the case of the Wind River Indian Reservation, Mexican drug cartels specifically targeted reservations due to their isolation and complicated drug laws.[3] Tribes have the right to outlaw substances on their lands as a part of their inherent rights as domestic dependent nations. For example, Montana legally allows the sale of alcohol as does the rest of the United States, but the Crow and Northern Cheyenne reservations in the state prohibit it.[4] The jurisdictional issues between native and federal law created created loopholes and opportunities for the cartels to begin business.

Current status

Effects on Indian Country


Reports of crime have escalated since methamphetamine's introduction. FBI offices located in Indian Country estimate that 40 to 50% of the cases the violent crime cases they investigate involve the drug.[5] The increase cannot be solely attributed to Native American users. Traffickers, criminal groups, and gang members commit crimes against other groups and Native Americans in order to continue their drug distribution.[6] According to the United States Department of Justice, the crimes can be divided into three categories: personal crime, such as threats and intimidation; property crime, such as arson, theft, burglary, and vandalism; and violent crime, such as homicide, rape, and aggravated assault.[7]

Tribal and Federal Response


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External links

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