Vigilante Justice Takes Hold in Remote Alaskan Village

It may be hard to imagine for many of us denizens of the 21st century, but there are still plenty of remote outcrops of civilization with few modern luxuries. As in, no running water or hospitals or jails. So what’s this sort of Wild West municipality to do when criminals strike? In the case of one Alaskan village with a population of 250, the answer is: banishment.

The tribal authority town of Tanana was the unfortunate host of the killing of two state troopers who had come to the village (via plane) in repsonse to a call. The alleged shooter is now within the justice system, but two other locals also thought to be connected to the killings roamed free. Desperate circumstances call for desperate measures, and the village voted to forever boot the miscreants from their midst.

"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," said the chair of Tanana Village Council.

This isn't the first time rural Alaskans have taken criminal matters into their own hands. In another community, a suspected drug dealer flying home was met by his fellow residents at the airport, and unceremoniously told to skedaddle (they even bought a return ticket for the offender to return from whence he came). Gotta give it to them—it's a swift way to get 'er done.

Vigilante justice can be seriously flawed, but in pockets of settlement so far removed from regular institutions, there may not be much alternative. Tanana residents say they will ask the state to back up its order to the cast-aways, but a lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund said, “If they do not enforce it, we will enforce it ourselves.” And when your entire community is aligned against you, there's probably not much motiviation to stick around anyway.

Image: ThinkStock

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