American Indian Mafia


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While technically the Mafia is a term that only applies to a certain traditional Italian crime syndicate, the idea of the Mafia seems to be universal. Interestingly in London, the Russian Mafia is only one of several international crime families trying to get a foothold in the lucrative London market.

In nearly every culture, there has historically risen a complex syndicate of organized criminals usually based around some concept of the family. And every national cinema seems to be equally fascinated by these criminal elements. But the differences between crime syndicates are as interesting and telling as the similarities.


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To misquote Tolstoy, "Every happy family is the same. Every crime family is criminal in its own way. The Sicilian Mafia, commonly known as "Cosa Nostra" aka "Our Thing" , is arguably the most famous and mythologized of all crime syndicates. There are many conflicting ideas as to its origins. Some imagine its roots in medieval times, others even claim an early Imperial link, but most historians agree that the Mafia came into its own in the 19 th century paralleling Italy's own formation of national identity. In Sicily, where the Mafia is most deeply rooted, some historians suggest that the lawlessness that erupted after the revolution there seeded the ground for organized crime.

Gangs that were hired to protect private estates stayed on, collecting "protection" in ways not all that different from the mob today. Over time these groups organized themselves into families that help criminal sway, generation after generation. In the '30s and '40s, things changed.

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Mussolini's violent and criminal regime saw the traditional Mafia as little more than competition. As such, many organized crime leaders stayed underground, joined the government or emigrated to fresher markets. Joseph Bonanno aka Joe Bananas , for example, fled Italy to set up business in America, soon rising to become head of one of New York's infamous "five families. The Italian Mafia's explosive rise to power occurred after the war, when governmental chaos and economic instability made criminal enterprises easy, if not in some places, necessary.

Many accuse the U.


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Others have seen a even more sinister link between the CIA, local mafia organizations and international drug routes. In any case, the Italian Mafia during this post-war period expanded their local criminal network into an international syndicate, working with the French and others to bring heroin from Africa and the Middle East to Western Europe and America.

Mobs are killing Muslims in India. Why is no one stopping them?

While Italians have not been as cinematically enamored of their Mafia as Americans are, there are a number of significant films dealing with the Mafia. Alberto Lattuada's Mafiosa provided a comic turn on the institution, and other contemporary films, like The Best of Youth , included the Mafia as a back story. Only a few, like Ricky Tognazzi's hard-hitting La Scorta about a mafia-fighting magistrate, take the Cosa Nostra head on.

It would take the Americans to make the Mafia movie stars in their own right. While the American Mafia owes much of its structure, mythology and talent to the Italian—specifically Sicilian—Mafia, it has also created a history all its own. One of the original incarnations of the American Mafia was the appearance of "The Black Hand" movement.

While forms of the "Black Hand" can be traced back to 18th century Sicily, the group took off in 19 th century America as a kind of criminal welcome wagon. Secret gangs would send letters, literally signed by the image of a black hand, extorting money from newly landed citizens, thus creating an ongoing revenue stream as well as a properly terrorized public. In , the Mafia gained public attention when the gangland slaying of a police superintendent in New Orleans brought media attention and government scrutiny to local Italian criminal gangs.

It was not, however, until the '20s, when prohibition gave the Mafia their most powerful business initiative that the organization really took off. In Chicago, Al Capone rose to become a national figure by selling bootleg liquor and killing anyone who got in his way. Elsewhere every city developed their own crime families, often with the result of mob wars breaking out between competing families. In New York, the severity of the wars between the families forced the organization to centralize power, starting with the ascension of Charles "Lucky" Luciano. Soon the local families would give way to a national, even multinational, organization.

In the next few decades the Mafia, while maintaining their secrecy, grew to be a shadow government connecting the local "made man" to the national figures. While organized crime's bread and butter remained traditional crimes, like extortion, prostitution, fraud and drugs, its business interests soon grew to incorporate many seemingly legitimate industries and union activities.

1989 - American Indian Activist Russell Means testifies at Senate Hearing

In , Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver held a series of congressional hearings that explored the scope of organized crime in America. The "Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce" did little to deter organized crime, but the nationally televised spectacle did succeed in further mythologizing the Mafia, with J. Edgar Hoover famously promising to wage war on the organization. In , the accidental discovery of an international Mafia conference in Apalachin, New York, in which over bosses from across America and Italy converged, made apparent the global reach and structure of organized crime in America.

Its fiercest competition now comes not from the government but from the intrusion of other national crime syndicates onto its turf. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason. Due to the high volume of feedback, we are unable to respond to individual comments. Sorry, but we can't respond to individual comments. Recent searches Clear All. Update Location. If you want NextDay, we can save the other items for later.

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Preview ad. Report incorrect product info or prohibited items. Joseph and John Trimbach are the authors of American Indian Mafia , the authoritative history of the American Indian Movement during the violent years of the s. Much of the evidence in the book is based on court testimony and on accounts provided by Native Americans who were victimized by AIM. The Trimbach's book is available in hard-copy or as an inexpensive, searchable ebook. It is also for sale as an Amazon Kindle book. The Trimbachs are not against the rank-and-file members of the AIM, but they point out that the leadership engaged in violent criminal activities under the guise of Indian civil rights.

John Trimbach explains how people were held hostage, interrogated, terrorized, robbed, raped, and murdered during the "occupation" of Wounded Knee. AIM burned down Indian people's cabins and buildings, leaving the town in ruins. They threw a paralyzed man out of his trailer and took it over for their headquarters. Armed AIMsters commandeered people's telephones and held women, children, and elderly people at gunpoint in the church as hostages.

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American Indian Mafia American Indian Mafia
American Indian Mafia American Indian Mafia
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