The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw by Joe Friesen.

By Shirley Honyust/ Yenatli:yo

This book tells the epic story of Danny Wolfe, one of the lead founders of the Indian Posse, a prominent street gang in 1988 in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

At that time the word, ‘Indian’ was still used in legal definitions of status, although it was often seen as derogatory, these were some commonalities that bound the gang leaders together: a feeling of poverty; being looked down upon, and resentment.

Friesen’s book captures the essence of Danny’s youth, his innate ability to use his persuasiveness and his sense of humor, fueled by his desire to be wealthy and powerful, to hone his skills from the early years onward.

In the summer of 1988, 12-year-old Danny, along with his brother Richard, and his friend Lawrence split from another gang, “Scammers Inc.” to form their own gang. All from chaotic and dysfunctional home lives, in their minds the world held nothing for them. School unfinished, too young to hold jobs, they still wanted the landmarks of a good life—cars, homes and money, and they were prepared to take these by force if necessary. They became the Indian Posse (IP). Richard said they “just wanted to make sure [they] stuck with each other and watched each other’s backs” (Friesen, 2016, p. 14).

Originally, the IP was to be governed by a leadership council, a circle of five to 10 people, who would make all of the major decisions by concensus, a concept imported from other Indigenous government models. Unlike most other crime groups, which favour top down decision making structure, in the IP no single person was chosen as top boss. A gang is vulnerable to losing its leaders, either to jail or to rival gangs, and having a pool of leaders mitigates that risk.

In the early years, the gang’s rules were simple: no hard drugs (described as cocaine and heroin); a strict code of silence; and blood in, blood out (meaning that incoming recruits and members who wanted to leave were subject to a gang beating of predetermined length).

This book chronicles the highs and lows of Danny’s life, loves and relationships with others, interspersed with his family history and reflections by relatives, close friends and associates (photos are included in the mid-section). To describe it as “riveting” is indeed an understatement—it is much more than that.


Friesen, Joe. (2016). The Ballad of Danny Wolfe: Life of a Modern Outlaw. Toronto, ON: Signal.

ISBN:     978-0-7710-3023-9 (bound)

ISBN:     978-0-7710-3031-4 (epub)

Pages: 334