Trial ends in Ketchikan over ‘tribal values’ school reward system promoting ‘Reverence for Our Creator’


Think of them as a tribal form of Ten Commandments being used to give out good-behavior rewards in a public school. Is it appropriate?

This week, a trial got underway in a civil suit against the Ketchikan School District and Ketchikan Charter School, relating to posters on the walls of schools that were titled “Southeast Traditional Tribal Values” that plaintiffs say has religious content, and that students are rewarded for following those values.

The phrase that is being litigated is among 14 traditional values listed, including pride in family and clan, and being stewards of the air, land, and sea. The item in question is “Reverence for Our Creator.” At Ketchikan Charter School, the school was using a tribal value of the week or month, and students were encouraged to follow all of the tribal values as these are the values that would make a good student. The school never actually used that specific value to reward students, because that value had become controversial.

Pushing “Reverence for Our Creator” on students through rewards is a violation of the U.S. Constitution and Alaska Constitution, parents Justin Breese and Rebecca King say, since the charter school is giving out behavioral rewards based on following this value.

Six witnesses testified on day one of the trial, including King and the principal of the charter school. The courtroom was packed and the phone lines to listen in on the proceedings were jammed.

The school district argued that the posters simply promote cultural understanding and that Breese and King should have first reached out to tribal members.

Breese and King did reach out to the district one year ago in April about their concerns. In the district’s response to them in May of 2022, the school’s business manager wrote:

“There is no Southeast Alaska tribal religion, nor specific religious belief in Creationism amongst the Southeast tribes. Therefore, none of the Southeast Traditional Tribal Values are religious statements or tenets. It follows, then, that no intent exists, whether historically or contemporaneously, for the values to be used in a manner other than as cultural knowledge sharing. This has been confirmed by Southeast Alaska tribal leaders, and local and regional cultural experts, elders, and culture bearers.”

The district went on to say, “The posters on display in KGBSD schools identify the listed values as Southeast Traditional Tribal Values developed, adapted, and approved at the 2004 Elders Forum on Traditional Values.”

Read the district’s letter at this link.

Breese, commenting on the negotiated development of the traditional values document said, “They were determining the common themes of different tribes — Tsimshian, Haida, Tlingit, and one other. We have never complained about use of the tribal values poster to teach about tribal beliefs and culture. Our complaint was entirely about how school district using it.”

In other words, it would be one thing in a public school to teach the 10 Commandments, but it’s another thing, and acceptable to teach about the 10 Commandments.

“It’s a fine line,” Breese said. “We’re not against teaching about tribal values.”

Those listed values were not, however, handed down to Moses on tablets thousands of years ago, but were negotiated at a conference two decades ago. They evidently reflect spiritual beliefs of various tribes in Southeast Alaska.

Tlingit Haida Central Council credits Raven as the Creator: “The Haida legend of ‘The Raven and the First People’ expresses how Raven discovered mankind and is responsible for the present order of our universe. Likewise, the Tlingit legend of ‘Raven and the Creation Story’ tells us how the Raven created the world,” the council writes on its website.

The poster itself has sponsorships listed at the bottom that include state and federal government education agencies, “indicating appropriateness for use in public schools,” the district wrote to Breese and King last year. Those agencies include:

  • Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska
  • Circles of Care SAMHSA Substance Abuse Planning Project
  • Elderly Nutrition Program
  • Johnson O’Malley Program
  • Alaska Rural Systemic Initiative
  • Alaska Association of School Boards

The Ketchikan trial, which has constitutional implications, took two days, ending Wednesday. The lawsuit can be read at this link:


  1. So King and Breese are “not against teaching about tribal values.” but they are suing the school district for teaching about what the regional tribal values are, or specifically having a poster about what the tribal values are. Seems like these people have more time and money than sense. Hey Breese, hey King, go do something productive. Dig a ditch, pick up trash, coach children’s after school athletics. Whatever it is you are doing now is unproductive.

    • Fortunately Breese and King are out of step with most of Ketchikan.

      At least for now.

      I wonder if they’d be so butthurt if Our Way of Life endorsed drag shows?

  2. Historical Southeast native culture

    * Keep your slaves in pits in the ground.
    * Starve your slaves to death.
    * Force most females into prostitution to earn trinkets for Pot Luck.
    * Label anyone you don’t like a witch, including children, so you can then beat them to death.

    Today’s “tribal” values

    * The highest incidence of alcoholism and fetal alcohol syndrone.
    * The highest incidence of incest and pedophilia
    * The highest amount of adults who do not work.
    * Highest incidence of domestic violence and child abuse.

    Most natives are incapable of being honest about their culture and history.

  3. Another “what will a leftist be offended about today” day. These people need to be thankful that their children are being taught respect, kindness, discipline and personal strength.

  4. The Ketchikan school district is woke. They’d never push the 10 commandments. When you read through these, “obedience to the traditions of our ancestors….” Do you guys even know what those traditions are? Slavery. One third of the people living in southeast Alaska were slaves in the 1800. Cruelty to enemies. Women as possession, traded at whim. Making war on neighboring tribes. Belief in Raven as Creator. Superstitions and prejudices. This is all “noble savage” stuff, making indigenous people to be something they were not. Completely fabricated value traditions.

    • Looked at the history of America lately?

      I prefer SE traditional values over whatever the hell is in vogue in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

    • Well then those values are perfectly aligned with the 10 Commandments and Mosaic law. There is nothing in the Commandments against say, slavery, or child abuse, or rape. That’s because in the ensuing chapters of the Old Testament, all of those things are not only not prohibited, they’re just about to be enjoined and made an actual commandment. In those books, God’s supposed chosen people are told that they can kill all of their enemies (including women and children), enslave the survivors and rape the virgins. I once met a believer that said if he ever was to run into an Amalekite, that he would be bound to kill them. So yes, those wonderful Old Testament values are alive and well, so what’s the problem?

      The question is whether or not the school district, and therefore the State, was respecting an establishment of religion, which would be a clear violation of the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment. I’m not certain that line was crossed here, but it is indeed a slippery slope.

  5. Right about now it seems prudent to check out Ketchikan’s demographics to sort out why public school kids are being indoctrinated into worship of “Raven” and to adhere to “tribal values” which were “negotiated at a conference two decades ago” and one can argue over the sources but here’s a sample result from a brief online search:

    White: 58.02%
    Native American: 17%
    Asian: 12.77%
    Two or more races: 9.65%
    Other race: 1.47%
    Black or African American: 0.86%
    Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander: 0.23%

    So if the above is accurate and if it’s any kind of reflection of the makeup of the student body, it looks like 83% of the kids are getting beat over the head at public expense with a bunch of anthropomorphic superstitious gobbledygook of recent origin intended to help the other 17% of the kids feel good about the fact that most of their ancestors were pulled out of the stone age not that long ago at all by the ancestors of many of the 83% yet the beliefs of those stone age illiterate people who didn’t even have the wheel have been ridiculously afforded the highest value within the schools with the taxpayers footing the bill for it all.

    Y’know I might have missed an essential meeting on the value of virtue signaling or three back in the day and I’m not especially confidant that I’d enjoy exchanging pleasantries over a mocha with Mr. and Mrs. Breese but I’m finding their efforts are worthy of a little applause at the moment.

      • Of course and I also don’t support the infusion of Christianity into the public school curriculum to any degree other than to provide history lessons in its foundational role in the development of Western civilization and in the spread of Western civilization to primitive peoples everywhere.

        Parents should be able to provide religious guidance for their own kids at their own expense and scarce public funds should be used to ensure that students are adequately prepared to earn a living once they graduate and move on to the real world without having their minds soiled or their time wasted with cartoonish nonsense like this goofy “Raven” muck.

    • So what’s the difference between the Native “superstitious gobblygook” and that of the Christian/Jewish/Muslim monotheistic gobblygook? Both are mythologies. Do you may think one is the truth and the other gibberish?

      • We might split hairs between us over Christianity, cman, but are your really so crass and insensitive as to dismiss Native “superstitious gobblygook” as gibberish?

        Shame on you, Sonny. You are an absolute monster.

        In case you’d missed it, much public money is being thrown at pretending this gibberish, as you’d put it, has some value.

        • You’re the one that used the phrase “superstitious gobblygook”, I was merely using it in my reply. But at any rate, yes, I would put Native mythology in the same class as any other form of mythology like Christianity or any other religion, as they are all equal visions of the untrue.

  6. It’s a charter school. Nobody is forcing you to send your kids there. If you don’t like what they are doing, put your kids in another school.

  7. “nor specific religious belief in Creationism”. So points for reverence in something non specific?
    Ya better be careful or the Flying Spaghetti Monster will smite you.

  8. Funny how the same people who are constantly moaning about the loss of (fill in your own blank) are complaining about this.

    If anyone can look at those values and find something to be upset about, the problem isn’t SE values. It’s the person making the complaint.

  9. I have that same flyer posted on my wall. And I’m whiter than snow.

    It’s what most of us strive for here in SE. Attempting to reach those values is part of what makes SE special.

    Pity the rest of Alaska and some selected Karens here don’t get it.

  10. Americans never should have started public schools.

    “Massachusetts passed the first compulsory school laws in 1852. New York followed the next year, and by 1918, all American children were required to attend at least elementary school.”

    The History of Public Schools in America

  11. My son has left ANC for Sitka.
    He is there (in what may be AK’s most expensive town) to try & get sober from drugs, as he has no friends or connections or money there (he is a student)
    He is using these SE values, in part, to fight his addiction.
    He often attends a sobriety ‘muckie’ (steambath) fired up by a local Tlingit artist, in his yard, 7 days a week.
    The man is ~60 yrs old. The steambath was funded & built by the local AA chapter.
    Except for “rule #1” on this list, I see no conflict between this & American/ Christian values overall.
    I think they should get rid of that 1st rule though,
    If we all “obeyed” our ancestors half of us would be out sacrificing humans & animals to improve our luck.

  12. Good grief, I agree with the first comment post, these people need something actually productive to occupy their time. The values listed are very worthy values and it is baffling anyone would contest them. Imagine if everyone strove for them, what a different world it would be. Certainly there are some similarities to the Ten Commandments, so what. Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments into the great commandment, paraphrased, to love God and love your neighbor. The historic classroom ‘golden rule’ was along the same thread and the list being contested could also fit into similar parameters. How sad that ‘good’ is now considered ‘bad’ and vice versa.

  13. How about this , let’s stop ranting on what sins were committed by long dead people against long dead people and focus on our own sins. I am a white Christian and I think Southeast Traditional Tribal Values sounds just fine. That said, acceptance of Jesus as you savior is the only way to eternal life, His teachings are what must be the guiding principles of life.

    • We are lucky to live once, If people have souls, so do the other biological life forms 😉

  14. As a pragmatist, I wonder thus.

    ‘Religious’ (organized or otherwise) created principles aside, be they of the Ten Commandments or the Tribal Values list above, or even of the supposed ‘Golden Rule’ of life, would not the adherence unto any, or better yet, all three, lead unto a better societal existence?

    If an individual were to adhere unto the above lessons, no matter their origination, within their existence, would that not lead unto a more peaceful, content existence, for not only the individual, but for their families and communities as well?

    Therein lies the problem within today’s societal existence.

    Those that choose to live outside of that contentment, and demand not tolerance, but complete acceptance and agreement within their choice to denigrate said contentment, fully against said contentment of the populace, demand to be, at the point of violence, quantified, and at the same time, claiming themselves as victims whilst they victimize others that they do not agree with.

  15. Number 15.
    Tribal elders, medicine men, and chiefs deserve respect and should be rewarded with the same erotic gifts that Byron Mallot so richly deserved before moving on to happy hunting grounds.

    • Mary, of course you are talking about pedophilia between an much older man and an underage girl in the instance of former Lt. Governor Byron Mallott. Your comment is no doubt to be construed as a parody and not a cultural blight. However, the Byron Mallott lesson serves a purpose, that is, ……whether or not this real episode was swept away because the disgraced governor Bill Walker didn’t want to offend the Native culture under his watch by intervening, the actions of Mallott we’re still highly disturbing, if not illegal. And the Alaska mainstream media should be ashamed of themselves for not reporting the truth of the matter.

      • Because of the cover-up of the Mallott episode, Bill Walker could never make a reappearance in politics. Walker and the media did their best to put a lid on it. But it eventually leaked out and the media even made an attempt to explain it one year after the fact. If the same thing happened on Mike Dunleavy’s watch, the media would have jumped all over it for months, much as the media can’t get enough of reporting a bunch of nothing news about Donald Trump.

        • Yep. Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Hunter, and other miscreant Democrats who have tendencies towards pedophilia, misogyny, and creepiness get no coverage by the mainstream media. Crickets………

  16. Punishing the kids not adhering to the values and conduct is odd. It would only lead to a shame-based
    society. I was under the impression the Native values are for Native peoples use not for outsiders. It to remind Native people their value and we are better that is we come from a proud, happy
    and honorable past than the lack of respect presently
    shown we do against our selves and to our family, and losing to
    internal demons fighting against our peoples survival.
    The values i saw were to encourage as
    they hang on our homes wall to remind us to see our peoples self worth and value. As my great grandma would pray for us there no remission of sins except through jesus and life comes by jesus and raven is a myth.

  17. If ever a post supported vouchers its this one. Our state should give every parent vouchers and allow them to enroll their children in any school they like in resulting free market. Let the free market schools teach religion along with required academics. Give all parents the choice to follow the style of instruction they see fit for their children as long as fundamental standards are met. The government schools are like everything else the government does–a dysfunctional failure.

Comments are closed.