Sunday, October 19, 2008

More on Native Alaskan crime: In an earlier post, I provided evidence that Native Alaskans are much more criminal than their white counterparts who, in turn, have crime rates somewhat higher than whites in the lower 48 states. American Indians (AIs), by contrast, are not arrested much more often than whites.

Some readers suggested that native Alaskans are not more criminally prone than AIs; rather, many crimes committed by AIs do not result in an arrest because the law is underenforced on reservations.

The General Social Survey asked thousands of Americans if they have ever been threatened or shot at with a gun. I define as American Indian those people who say their primary ethnicity is Indian and that their race is non-white (in order to eliminate whites who say their main ethnicity is AI). Here the percentages:

Percent having ever been threatened or shot at with a gun

American Indians 18.1
Whites 18.7
Blacks 25.2

I'm assuming that most attacks are intra-racial. (The white offense rate is probably lower since the National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that a substantial share of attacks on whites are perpetrated by blacks. This should not be the case with the more rural and segregated American Indians.) These numbers indicate that gun violence is not higher--or not much higher--among AIs than among whites. This pattern is consistent with arrest statistics.

So native Alaskans still look much more violent than Native Americans.


  1. This conflicts with various memoirs by AI writers, on the reservation systems, describing highly violent and alcoholic families and lives.

    AI people are ill adapted to alcohol it seems, and do not handle it well.

    There is also continuous archaeological evidence for both Alaskan-Eskimo-Greenlander natives and AI people that suggests tribal life was very violent, with death rates approach 4% a year, which is not surprising.

    Without the network of a strong agricultural state, writers such as Wade "Before the Dawn" and Keeley "War Before Civilization" cite evidence that people were quite likely to stick spears in each other, and this way of life persisted for thousands of years, from settlement of the Americas about 6,000 years ago until basically the 19th Century.

    Regardless if behavioral patterns are biologically-evolutionary based, or culturally based, it's hard to switch from a successful adaptation, i.e. for violent, tribal life, to one of settled civilizational life, in the space of two centuries.

    It is worth noting that violence in various 19th century White areas are in dispute. Some argue that NYC during the heyday of urban growth, i.e. from the 1790's through the 1880's, was incredibly violent, along with most large urban centers in America and Europe. There's some evidence to support that -- Smith and Wesson marketed revolvers to women exclusively, including the famous "Lemon Squeezer" which had a safety in the grip.

    The South was viewed as violent, even among Whites, with such things as Bowie's Famous Sandbar Fight, and even various knife fighting schools teaching people how to survive during the period before reliable revolvers (pre-Colt, in other words). Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, with several chapters devoted to feuds and an attempted lynching (of a white character), show the every day nature of pre-War violence along the Mississippi as Twain remembered it.

    However, Twain himself in Roughing It, describes more danger from bad food and boredom than random violence. Guns were not very accurate (he describes his own experience shooting a pepper-box pistol) and it was not uncommon to have shootouts in point blank range with no one hit. Violence on the Frontier did exist, but it seems to come in waves, various massacres, from almost anyone, followed by massive retaliation, with occasional shootings.

  2. Is this a study that combines hispanics and whites into one category? If not, where are the hispanics?


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