The Incarceration of Native American Women


The Incarceration of Native American Women

Creating Pathways to Wellness and Recovery through Gentle Action Theory

Carma Corcoran

New Visions in Native American and Indigenous Studies Series

178 pages
2 tables, index


June 2023


$55.00 Pre-order

About the Book

In The Incarceration of Native American Women, Carma Corcoran examines the rising number of Native American women being incarcerated in Indian Country. With years of experience as a case management officer, law professor, consultant to tribal defenders’ offices, and workshop leader in prisons, she believes this upward trajectory of incarceration continues largely unacknowledged and untended. She explores how a combination of F. David Peat’s gentle action theory and the Native traditional ways of knowing and being could heal Native American women who are or have been incarcerated.

Colonization and the historical trauma of Native American incarceration runs through history, spanning multiple generations and including colonial wartime imprisonment, captivity, Indian removal, and boarding schools. The ongoing ills of childhood abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, and drug and alcohol addiction and the rising number of suicides are indicators that Native people need healing. Based on her research and work with Native women in prisons, Corcoran provides a theory of wellness and recovery that creates a pathway for meaningful change. The Incarceration of Native American Women offers students, academics, social workers, counselors, and those in the criminal justice system a new method of approach and application while providing a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical experiences of Native Americans in relation to criminology.

Author Bio

Carma Corcoran (Chippewa-Cree) is the director of the Indian Law Program at Lewis and Clark Law School. She is also an adjunct professor of Indigenous Nations studies at Portland State University and an adjunct professor of Native American studies at Salish Kootenai College. Corcoran serves on several boards of directors for organizations dealing with issues that Native American people are facing.


“This notion of respectful integration of a ‘mainstream’ approach and an Indigenous approach is cutting edge in its possibilities. This book is exceptionally strong and innovative.”—Frank Pommersheim, author of Tribal Justice: Twenty-Five Years as a Tribal Appellate Justice

“This is the first book-length study of incarcerated Indigenous women in over two decades. Second, it insists on the importance of tribal knowledge and practices, and it illuminates their importance in the areas of justice and healing. Third, it brings gentle action theory into dialogue with these issues in a manner that is instructive.”—C. Richard King, author of Redskins: Insult and Brand

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Chapter One: Native American Women and Incarceration
Chapter Two: Law and Policy in Native American History
Chapter Three: Incarceration from a Philosophical Perspective and the History of the Women’s Prison System in the United States
Chapter Four: Historical Trauma and the Need for Healing and Perspectives of Native Spirituality
Chapter Five: Gentle Action Theory
Chapter Six: Cree Traditional Justice
Chapter Seven: Narratives from Native American Women’s Experience of Incarceration and Healing the Sacred Hoop Workshop and Gentle Action Theory
Chapter Eight: Discoveries, Conclusion, and Future Research

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