Indian rolling

Indian rolling (or Injun rollin')[1][2] is the assault, and in some cases murder, of Navajo and Apache, often of homeless individuals,[3] committed by non-Indians in the Southwestern United States, particularly in the border towns surrounding the Navajo Nation and Jicarilla lands. In her 2006 dissertation, Lisa Donaldson classifies Indian rolling as a "thrill-seeking hate crime" and traces its roots to the colonization of the Southwest which created a "power differential between groups that led to negative feelings toward minorities among law enforcement and local citizens".[2]

The assaults, which often target alcoholic men who are comparatively defenseless, are variously described as representing "rites of passage",[1] "sport,"[4] and a "recreational pastime"[2] to the perpetrators. Survivors report the act involves being assaulted with rocks, pellet guns, bottles, eggs, and baseball bats. Victims claim, furthermore, that law enforcement officials often refuse to intervene.[5]

The term first came to public notoriety in the spring of 1974 when three Navajos were beaten and murdered[4] by white teenagers in the city of Farmington, New Mexico, and their mutilated bodies were subsequently found in a nearby canyon.[1] The perpetrators were not convicted of murder but were sent to a reform school. Subsequent protests by tribal members turned into riots when permits to march peacefully were revoked or not granted.[6] The incident triggered a report by the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and inspired the true crime-novel The Broken CircleA True Story of Murder and Magic in Indian Country by Rodney Barker.[5][7]

Concerns about the practice's revival emerged in the 1970s to 2000s after a resurgence of attacks against Native Americans in the area.[1][8] Assaults have allegedly taken place in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Page and Gallup.[9]


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