After the recent shooting deaths of two Alaska state troopers, the village of Tanana has turned to banishment as a way of protecting the community. The use of banishment is very controversial, raising a host of legal questions, but the circumstances of this village demonstrate how few options community members feel that they have under current jurisdictional conditions.
Full article here.
The Tanana Village Council, the Athabascan Indian tribal authority in the village of 250, is taking steps to expel two men whose actions contributed to the homicides and who have threatened other community members, council Chairman Curtis Sommer said.
“This is the only way we have to remove individuals who are — how do we say it? — who are dangerous to members of the community,” Sommer said.
The action is infrequent in Alaska, and when it is used, some question whether a tribal entity has the right to limit access to a community otherwise governed by state law. Those who are banished rarely contest the action publicly, and it isn’t clear if banished residents go on to cause problems in other communities because no one tracks them. . . .
The state can’t afford to pay for law enforcement in small villages like this but they also refuse to let tribes have full authority over law enforcement, beyond an unarmed public safety officer, Kendall-Miller said. State troopers are flown in to deal with violence, but they can sometimes take days to arrive. . . .
Sommer concedes banishment is a “slippery slope.”
“It’s got to be very significant circumstances that would warrant this, either violent assaults or murder,” he said. “At what point do we draw the line on this? I do not know. I do know it’s not going to be used frivolously just to get back at someone.”
The village council will ask the state to enforce banishments. The Alaska Department of Law said it would carefully evaluate a banishment order. Kendall-Miller has seen unofficial support in the past.
“We have seen state police officers that have attempted to accommodate the tribal council’s blue ticket orders by helping to prevent individuals from coming back,” Kendall-Miller said. “It has been an informal arrangement that was done out of necessity.”
“If they do not enforce it, we will enforce it ourselves. We will get a group of men together and go to that person and tell him to leave and to not come back.”
H/T to SW.