Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Todd Moore

Committee Members

Gregory Stuart, Christian Elledge


American Indian reservations are among emerging communities for gang activity in the United States, in which reports of a rise in youth and/or criminal gangs began occurring after the1980s. Gang membership and activity has been found to present significant costs to the individual, community, and overall macrosystem, posing a public health risk, straining community resources, and leading to a myriad of individual negative life outcomes. The perceived increase in gang activity has been observed by law-enforcement and community stakeholders, but comparatively little empirical research has focused specifically on American Indian groups or reservation communities. Utilizing data from “Drug Use Among Young American Indians: Epidemiology and Prediction”, ANOVA and regression analysis was utilized to examine cross-sectional trends in gang involvement among 14,457 American Indian adolescents living on or near reservation communities across nineteen time points between 1993-2013. Contrary to public opinion, result of this study failed to establish a consistent pattern of either growth or decline in gang membership across time when examining all reservations communities, and suggest that consistent trends may exist only within specific communities. Gang members were found to endorse significantly more alcohol use, marijuana use, anger, depressed mood, and victimization as a whole. However, only alcohol use, marijuana use, violent behavior, and depressed mood were demonstrated a significant interaction with time and gang membership. Across domains of individual, family, peer, school, and community risk factors, adolescents who endorsed gang membership also demonstrated more cumulative risk across than those who have never been in a gang. Finally, self-reported substance use, criminal behavior/delinquency, and perpetration of violence were found to significantly increase as level of gang affiliation increased

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