We were always poor or hungry.
Juvenile In Justice We were always poor or hungry.
“I’m Klamath and Crow. Mom’s a Crow, grandpa Crow. Grandma Klamath. Both my mom and dad’s parents are Klamath. I grew up on the Chiloquin reservation, by Klamath Falls. My tribe is confederated. I lived with my mom until I was nine. Then I was taken away by DHS [Department of Human Services] and put in non-tribal foster care. My grandma fought to get me back through tribal counsel. She adopted me when I was nine…me and my two sisters and my brother. My mom passed away at 41 from alcoholism. My dad’s in prison. Drug charges and domestic violence against my mom. Mom would start fights with him; she tried to kill him. I witnessed all of it. She would hit him in the head with a hammer. He stayed with her because of the four kids. Normally, it’s the other way around, but I think my mother was the one guilty of domestic violence. I think I understand my father more now. I’ve been here seven months. I was 15 when I first came here. I’m in YWTC [Young Women’s Transitional Center]. I’m trying to get out in time for my senior year of high school. I would live with family friends when released, on the reservation. They live outside of town and have five horses. I have my GED, but I want my diploma. They committed me when I was 13. When I got charged with criminal mischief two and one, and an MIP [minor in possession]. If you get in too much trouble, you get off the tribal court and into the state. I’d be written up as a YIR [Youth Incident Report]. Tribal court didn’t want to deal with me anymore. I was charged with burglary too. I broke into a store, we pulled off the swamp cooler and I slid down into the store and passed alcohol to my friends.
All the programs I’ve been in I’ve run from. Including Bob Baloney girls ranch. I was on the run for four months. I started weed at nine, alcohol at 12, meth at 14. There’s free health care from the tribe, mostly it deals with alcoholism. A lot of grandparents are raising kids. On the res we had two food stores. One of them was actually a liquor store. There’s not much there. We have a small casino. My tribe, you have to be half Indian to be enrolled. We only get 2,000 dollars when we turn 18. The Grand Ronde tribe gets 70,000 dollars. They have big casinos. My grandma regularly took care of eight kids. She was a secretary for the tribes. She was in recovery from breast cancer, but now she’s not doing well. My sister got pregnant at 13. School starts September 9. I hope I’m out before then. I’ve been to programs like Healing Lodge of Seven Nations in Spokane. They’re made for native kids. But I ran. Lithia springs, but I ran. When I got into the system at OYA [Oregon Youth Authority], I spoke one way, like an Indian. Everybody around me was judging me, making me feel uncomfortable as an outsider. I have 12 siblings, 3 full siblings. This is my destiny – to be an alcoholic and a meth addict. But I was also selling. I was taken away at nine. My mom had mental personality issues. I’m not sure why she hated my dad so much. We lived off of commodity food, bread, cheese, powdered milk, and Saltine crackers. We were always poor or hungry. When my mom drank she would be happy or mean drunk. Sometimes she would lock us in a room. Indians would have parties and bring their kids. We were used to being around our parents when they were drunk.”
-U.X., age 17, Oak Creek Oregon, Albany, Oregon