Mission Statement

BRAID provides cultural, literary, and educational reading materials to incarcerated juvenile and adult American Indians. To facilitate the book and reading donation process and to ensure broader access to the reading materials, BRAID has forged relationships with US prison libraries that will house and offer access to the books. The primary goal is to help educate Native prisoners about the cultural practices, language, and histories of their specific tribes. It is hoped that the increased cultural literacy will aid adults and juveniles released from prisons and detention facilities to reenter society.

History

BRAID grew out of an ad hoc book-donation program that began in 1997 after UCLA’s American Indian Studies Center (AISC) received letters from Native American prisoners requesting reading materials. The requests ranged from history books about specific tribes to books on tribal languages to books explaining Native cultural and spiritual practices. The Publications Unit sent books published in-house or donated by the faculty or library, as well as print-outs from the Internet when books addressing the requested subject were not available. However, prisons sometimes returned packages for unstated reasons, and so we made the decision to bypass this random censorship by forming partnerships with prison libraries. We continue to respond to individual requests but prefer to donate books that are accessible to multiple individuals. Click here to read more.

Activities

BRAID currently solicits book donations from UCLA-affiliated scholars; logs, categorizes, and warehouses those books in a small storage facility; contacts prison librarians or other staff to establish a pipeline to those institutions with a significant population of American Indian prisoners; ascertains the prison’s need and desire for books and learns the shipping and other limitations; researches materials requested by individuals and librarians; and ships books to prisons. BRAID strives to increase its collection of books suited to incarcerated juveniles.

To donate: click here.

Please consider donating to the UCLA American Indian Studies Center.