Togiak Tribe Banishes Dillingham Man for 10 Years
KDLG News / Alaska Dispatch News
April 13, 2016
The Togiak traditional council has rolled out the “not welcome” mat to a Dillingham man they say has been importing alcohol and drugs into the community.
This is the second time in a year that the Togiak tribe has banished an individual from the village. Last fall, local air carriers were informed that the first of them, a 23-year-old from Dillingham, was no longer welcome in Togiak. On Friday letters went out that the second had been banished as well. He, a brother to the first, is 26 years old.
“I think we need to do this, to protect our future children, and our elders, because they’re vulnerable. It’s been getting worse, and we’re saying enough is enough,” said traditional council president Jimmy Coopchiak.
The tribe has decided not to publicly release the men’s names. Because the allegations of drug and alcohol importation leveled against the men are not based on state criminal complaints or filed in open court, KDLG has withheld their names from this report.
Local airlines confirmed that the tribe had asked them not to allow either of these brothers passage to the village.
Banishments from tribal lands in Alaska are not necessarily common, but are not unheard of. The procedure appears to be of renewed interest as communities wrestle with the epidemic of heroin and meth use.
“It’s rare, but we are exercising our sovereign authority as a federally recognized tribe,” said Togiak tribal court clerk Helen Gregorio.
Gregorio said banishment begins with a petition to the tribal council, which then meets with the court’s three-judge panel. Once the banishment order has been signed, the tribe says its police force will arrest the men if they set foot on their tribal lands.