Montana: Montana tribal leaders have begun the first American Indian reservation chapter of the Guardian Angels. The new chapter will begin training about 50 recruits on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation. The 3,200-square-mile reservation reservation is home to 6,000 enrolled members of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes.
Chauncey Whitwright III from the Wolf Point Community Organization said gang activity has crept in from the outside, and that reservation youth have become vulnerable.
''There are all kinds of gangs roaming around up here,'' Whitwright said.'' Our kids are in danger, they're being influenced, they're being targeted. It's going on every day of the week ... and [the gangs] are busy recruiting.''
Other Montana reservations report the same problem, Whitwright said. This includes the Blackfeet, Rocky Boy, Crow and Northern Cheyenne, He hopes the new Guardian Angels chapter will expand its programs and patrols and give teens an alternative.
Curtis Sliwa is the founder of the Guardian Angels, He call being invited onto the reservation "a breakthrough." He says the Fort Peck chapter will be a model for other tribes, reservations and Canadian First Nations.
''We're dealing with a problem that everybody recognizes, but most folks haven't wanted to try anything different,'' Sliwa said. ''In this case, the Indians said, 'We're going to do it for ourselves.'''
Whitwright expects patrols will start in about six months.
Last year, a Justice Department study said that most reservation gangs rarely have direct ties to national gangs. It said most are local gangs of primarily Native youth,
But Whitwright and Sliwa say the increased gang violence is coming from outside.
Since 2009, there have been 43 arsons on Fort Peck. A few were ruled accidents, but tribal leaders suspect most are gang-related because graffiti appears on the burned rubble the next day.
More elders are being beaten, which Sliwa says is a part of a gang initiation on Indian reservations. Young tribal members are asked to pick gang loyalty over the tradition of respecting elders.
Whitwright invited the Guardian Angels to the reservation last Thanksgiving. He and a Guardian Angels member walked up and down the reservation. The Guardian Angels pointed out the gang colors teens were wearing and the gang tags written in graffiti.