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 Circle—A 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 the Arizona cities of Flagstaff, Phoenix, and Page and in Gallup, New Mexico.[3]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Nieves, Evelyn. In Navajo country, racism rides again. 2 September 2006.
  2. ^ a b c Donaldson, Lisa Weber. "Indian rolling": White violence against Native Americans in Farmington, New Mexico. Dissertation (Publication 3220935). University of New Mexico, 2006.
  3. ^ a b Linthicum, Leslie. "Dirty Secrets Emerge After 'Indian Rolling'". Albuquerque Journal. 19 July 2009. Accessed 2011-03-26.
  4. ^ a b Linthicum, Leslie. Farmington Struggles With Civil Rights Issues. Albuquerque Journal. 1 May 2004. Accessed 2011-03-26.
  5. ^ a b Banish, Laura. Homeless: ‘Indian rolling’ still takes place today. The Daily Times. Farmington. 23 April 2004.
  6. ^ Research Report: Navajo Community and Farmington, New Mexico (2006). The Pluralism Project at Harvard University. Accessed 2011-03-26.
  7. ^ Barker, Rodney. The Broken Circle—A True Story of Murder and Magic in Indian Country. Simon & Schuster. New York: 1992.
  8. ^ Draper, Electa. Attacks recall racist history of N.M. town. Denver Post. 13 July 2006.