Village officers blockade against state Troopers ends with school principal and staff fleeing Kipnuk in two planes

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Alaska State Troopers traveled to Kipnuk on Oct. 29, where the school principal, LaDorothy Lightfoot, had locked herself into her office at Chief Paul Memorial School after the Kipnuk Tribal Police had attempted to take her into custody and serve a “banishment order for unknown reasons,” according to the trooper dispatch report.

The incident began Oct. 28, but troopers were not able to get to Kipnuk until the next day due to lack of an available aircraft, and meanwhile, Lightfoot was able to escape to her residence, where she spent the night.

Lightfoot and other staff members were eventually able to flee the village, but not until troopers were able to get through the tribal officers’ blockade that they established on the boardwalk. From the report posted at Department of Public Safety, the tribal officers were conducting a standoff with troopers; it appears that the Kipnuk Tribal Police were declaring tribal sovereignty as they practiced “banishment,” which tribes in Alaska have been permitted to do. It’s legally unclear in Alaska if tribes are permitted to practice banishment against non-tribal members, and the extent of a village’s sovereign powers is a gray area of the law. The Kipnuk Traditional Council is the federally recognized government in Kipnuk.

The incident follows one earlier in the month, when the traditional council told parents to not send their children to school until further notice, as reported by KYUK public radio. In mid-October the council met with more than 30 parents to discuss concerns they had over various school issues, including safety at the school, which has about 205 students from elementary through high school grades.

In that resolution, there was an exception made for children who participate in athletic programs — they could still attend regular classes, according to KYUK reporting of the situation.

Things appeared to have escalated since Oct. 14, however, and came to a head on Oct. 28, when the village police tried to take Lightfoot into custody. Classes were canceled Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

Update: KYUK reports that the school has now shut down for in-person learning due to lack of staff. Students will be studying remotely.

Starting Nov. 2, they will shift to remote learning following an apparent dispute between the school district and the Kipnuk Traditional Council.

Read the banishment letter and the search warrant for Lightfoot at this link.

“Two weeks ago, the council sent a letter to all Kipnuk households prohibiting children in the village of around 700 people from attending school, citing concerns for the physical safety of students,” according to KYUK.

“On Oct. 31, the Lower Kuskokwim School District (LKSD) released a statement announcing the school’s closure. It also cited concerns for the safety of students and staff. Kipnuk’s Traditional Council has not agreed to comment,” the station reported.

Mural in the entryway to Chief Paul Memorial School in Kipnuk.

“On October 29, 2022, at 1:15 pm, Alaska State Troopers arrived in Kipnuk.  Upon arrival Kipnuk Tribal representatives and Tribal Police Officers had blocked the boardwalk from the airport to the village. Troopers were advised the Tribe was not allowing access to the village.  Alaska State Troopers were able to deescalate the situation and travel to the school. Troopers met with the principal and school staff to determine what was happening. Troopers were able to determine that no crimes had been committed and worked with the school district to facilitate assisting those that wanted to leave the village in doing so. The principal along with other school staff chose to leave and were flown out of the village on two aircraft chartered by the school district. No threats were made towards Troopers or school district staff.  The District Attorney’s Office has been notified of the events; no criminal charges have been filed at this time,” the report from the Department of Public Safety says.

According to the troopers’ report, the Kipnuk Tribal Police, while attempting to take Lightfoot into custody, never contacted the Alaska State Troopers during the incident. While troopers were in contact with the school principal, the tribal officers refused to take calls from state troopers and tribal leadership also did not respond to trooper calls.

“Alaska State Troopers attempted to contact Kipnuk Tribal Police and Tribal leadership by telephone without success. The Kipnuk Tribal Police Department did not contact AST at any point. Troopers were unable to respond due to the lack of availability of aircraft.  Troopers and the school district were in contact with the school principal who was able to return to her residence, where she remained for the night,” the report says.

The superintendent for the Lower Kuskokwim School District had been in Kipnuk for a site visit on Oct. 14, and was also scheduled to be in the village for another site visit Oct. 25-26.

Kipnuk is located near the Kugkaktlik River on the coast in the Bethel Census Area. Its residents are mostly Yup’ik-speaking Eskimos. Tristan Carl is listed with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs as the president of the Village and Clarence Daniel is the school board president.

“Our community lives according to the traditions and rhythms of its native Yup’ik heritage. Residents practice subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering. According to the 2014 census, our population was 626,” the school reports on its website.

The school of approximately 205 students “is served by two highly qualified certified administrators, 15 certified teachers, three associate teachers of Yugtun, 12 instructional aides, and 15 classified employees. From our 100% graduation rate, to our high-flying Falcons basketball team, we celebrate student achievement both inside and outside the classroom.”

“The staff and administration of Chief Paul Memorial School dedicate themselves to providing Kipnuk with a safe and nurturing learning environment in which committed faculty and staff educate the ‘whole child.’ Our work at Chief Paul Memorial School promotes instruction in the native Yup’ik language of Yugtun, adherence to traditional Yup’ik values, and prepares students to take their places as leaders of the 21st century,” the website states.

121 COMMENTS

  1. The beginning of a movement to give tribes in Alaska powers they are not allowed in Alaska. Shootings and death will come. I would never allow a tribal officer to arrest me when in a village. Quite possible a tribal officer could shoot you with no charges to follow. Take note, a tribe is a sovereign entity and cannot be sued. Your dead persons family has no avenue to sue for wrongful death.

    • I’ve seen an out-of-state administrator come in to a village in Western Alaska where I lived and wreck absolute havoc because he knew nothing about the culture and just tried to take charge, and literally turned it into an unsafe environment. We don’t know the case with Kipnuk, but be careful with your comments. Alaska Native corporations are under federal law and murder is illegal, the tribal police are usually very competent, and the fact that Natives have traditionally not had jurisdiction over their own lands has been the source of many problems that affect us to this day.

      • I agree. I’ve seen that too. And take note LKSD has been pushing a whole lot of woke crap in the last several years. It is possible the parents have had enough and don’t consider the school a safe place for their kids. I wonder if this principal is related to Chicago’s woke failure of a mayor.

      • Tribal police are very competent? Huh? Have you ever, and I mean, ever, actually seen them in action or at work? You have NO CLUE about that. None at all.

        Every tribe and village will boast of it’s subsistence living, yet more and more villages require assistance from missionaries to instruct their young how to fish, hunt, and trap. It’s an uncommon skill even among the middle-aged village members now.

        Subsistence living is now making sure that you are signed up for all the available benefits. Now that smartphones have invaded Western Alaska, youth generally do not seek the guidance or counsel of elders. GCI has done more damage than alcohol ever could.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met and know many wonderful people in the villages from my years actually living there. Probably the best people I’ve ever known.

        However, let’s separate reality from what tribal or village leaders will tell an outsider.

        If you want to know village life, go live in one for a few years, don’t just visit one for a few days and certainly don’t take a corporation’s word for it.

        Your comment was absolutely stunning in willful ignorance.

      • Village Police are hardly competent. They are less regulated than any other form of law enforcement, including VPSOs (which are different). ProPublica just did an entire expose a year ago, maybe less, that talked about how convicted felons have been appointed to VPO slots and villages haven’t reported it to APSC or DPS. VPOs are a hazard, and this demonstrates it. They don’t follow the laws they claim to enforce, and don’t coordinate with real law enforcement agencies.
        And also, these aren’t corporations, these are native village councils which do this. The corporations are…corporations. They have involvement, but they aren’t the ones overseeing or administering these situations.

        • Not quite. If it wasn’t for the corporations enabling through mis-interpretation and funding this overblown native “sovereignty” issue, it wouldn’t be an issue.

  2. With the growing “recognition” of tribes in Alaska, we will be seeing a lot more of this. But keep those State grants flowing! (Or we will sue!)

  3. I’m all for local governance but seems like we need a rule book (maybe we do?) for how to handle “ties” like these (standoffs) and the rules should be publicized and well known. If they are following the rules, I don’t want to see tribal police rights trampled by troopers any more than I want to see the feds trample on AST jurisdiction.. but we aren’t a collection of mini states inside our larger state, just like we aren’t a collection of mini countries inside our larger nation.

    • We have a rule book, called the constitution. A government cannot kick people out without due process. They were attempting to violate her constitutional rights under color of law, which is a state and federal crime.

      • Let’s be Reasonable,
        Look Pal, that reasonable stuff just don’t wash anymore in our courts. It’s all about equity now. Get hip. Oh, and don’t vote for the Con-Con, heavens, imagine opening up Pandora’s box and losing those four democrats on the Judicial Council that send the Guv a list of who they will allow to be a Judge in Alaska. How will we then live!

      • Constitution usurpations are standard operating procedure in Anchorage under Roberts Rules. Each incident should be immediately payable at the federal rate in order to remedy the operating procedures. Several emoluments are occupied by “defenders of the US Constitution” who have sworn oaths on file to defend but do not do the duty to which they are bound. Until Anchorage is brought into US Constitutional defense and compliance other areas will accept the Alaskan contemporary standard I believe.

      • You are clearly an idiot that has never been to, much less LIVED in a remote Alaskan Native Village.

        “State & Federal Crime”?? Obama, the Clintons, Biden, CDC, WHO, DHS, FBI, CIA, and MANY others in government have repeatedly & unremorsefully committed “State & Federal Crimes” that violated our Constitution.
        Go look up Schaefer Cox (Alaska), and tell me “A government cannot kick people out without due process”, or a government cannot arrest & imprison AMERICAN CITIZENS (people) out without due process” OR FOR SIMPLY EXERCISING FREE SPEECH.
        A SOVEREIGN Native village can kick anyone out they want to.
        Bet you’re one of those nitwits that goes around saying, “They work for US”
        NO.
        They are SUPPOSED to work for us. The government is NOT LEGALLY SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE to DO ANYTHING without due process.
        Get your head out of your butt.
        Ppl do what they want now, and the government is the WORST at it.
        Burning down cities, holding ppl captive in the “CHOP” zone, raping, killing ppl, with NO ONE ARRESTED or held accountable for it in SEVERAL Democrat cities. But show up at a rally in DC? FBI shows up at your door. Locked up for 1.5 years WITH NO PENDING CHARGES — IN AMERICA.
        WHAT CONSTITUTION?

        If I know that situation (after living in a remote native village for 14 years, married, widowed, married again (being part of 2 Native families) having 5 native children, being loved by them & totally immersed in the culture), those outside (hired educators?) ppl were doing something WRONG – I’m guessing grooming, woke crap, but the words actually give it away – the children were not PHYSICALLY SAFE to go there, & ALL the staff were in trouble over it.
        Guessing they were going to be arrested, called on the carpet, charged with ? child endangerment, child pornography? Given a day or two to think about it, & forced to leave. Same crap that should be happening in the rest of this “Woke” country. (No, we’ll just “enlighten” them, open them up to being mutilated & becoming another gender.)
        Good for the Tribal members, tribal council, parents, and tribal cops (who are NOT well trained – no one likes them – not even their own ppl, the jobs rotate often).
        To “Blue Ticket” someone out of town? Is not a thing they take lightly.
        Banish permanently. Ppl dealing drugs to children fall under that heading.
        I am guessing it was deserved, and the village was justified. Re Read that story again, make a guess. These ppl are not stupid. They think deliberately, & speak slowly. & they LOVE their children.

    • The first and most interesting question is what if any legal status does the “Tribal Police” have under either Alaska or federal law?

      • Art,
        Your question got me curios so I did some googling. Looks like these “tribal Police” go to a 2 week course. So they aren’t even APSC certified??

        ‘https://www.ktoo.org/2019/07/02/for-quinhagak-tribal-officers-law-enforcement-training-means-feeling-prepared-for-a-job-they-were-already-doing/

    • It’s funny how they take outside money but they are “sovereign”. If you want to be sovereign, raise your own money, get your own food, teach your own children, build your own schools, build your own hospital, pay for your own airport. You can have all the land and rights and make your own laws. Their “sovereign” land would be deserted within a month. Also, how is it that there is 45 school employees and 205 students. 4.5 Students per employee seems a bit excessive don’t you think?

      • It’s K-12. Thirteen grades in one school. 15 teachers, 15 local teachers aides (2 are in Native bi-lingual class) The aides are not high pay & not in a union, but needed because the villages are practically a foreign countries to these teachers. 2 janitors – there would be 10 in ANC, (2 in the grade school, 2 in the middle school, 6 in the high school) 4 locals in the cafeteria, 2 locals in the office w/ the principals, 2 maintenance guys (one is on call/pt) and usually 1 (pt) person runs the gym which is open in the evenings. The other 3 or 4 must be alternates called up as needed.

        • “……2 janitors – there would be 10 in ANC…….”
          And yet, the cost per student for primary education is so astronomically high in every village out there as to make the Anchorage cost per student look like it’s nearly free. For example, the five most urban Alaskan school districts received an average of $15,000 per student from local, state and federal sources. In the more rural parts of the state, the figure rose to $31,000. And in the remote Aleutian Islands, schools received more than $52,000 per student – nearly five times the national average.

          • After having lived in a remote Alaska Native village for 14 yrs, I can tell you why.
            The government requires children go to school.
            The parents WANT their children educated.
            But to import building materials & pay average 3x higher for the materials, + shipping for said materials (after the building? Books, furnishings, upkeep, + everything else that goes with it), is expensive. Now, Add the teachers – they have to pay them 3x what they’d get anywhere else as no one wants to live somewhere you cannot drive away from each weekend, no where to shop, not much to do – no movie theaters, no big public gym, restaurants, entertainment, etc. Maybe not even a car mechanic (+ the $3,000 to get your car there). Some places have no TV, limited internet connection. Then, the decent housing is very limited & very expensive (locals know the teachers make bank, so they charge them for it).
            When you have to import teachers, it takes the budget out of this world.
            And why don’t YOU tell your children they have to go to college, discover a whole new world out there, but MUST come home to be a teacher now to save the town money? & Not be paid what a white person that doesn’t really want to be there (at first) will get.
            They HAVE to import teachers. Like doctors here, remote Alaska’s an entry level position but the pay makes it worth trying.
            Oh, then there’s the $9 a gallon for milk, $10 a gallon for gas (back when Anchorage, Juneau, other cities paid $3.50 a gallon).
            You cannot force a small town (under 1000 in many cases – here too) to ALLL pack up & move to a city where there are not enough jobs or housing. But to stay? Have to obey State laws on fishing & hunting seasons & limits (like they ever take more than they need anyway). Few jobs, little money.
            YES, it costs more than other places.
            & like the past 2 years – NO ONE turns down gov’t money.
            If we are going to drag communities into the future with us, then explain how they’re supposed to pay for it.
            And did you read it? 100% graduation rate.
            How’s Anchorage rates doing in comparison?
            P.S. 26 years ago, I knew a kindergarten teacher that had just moved to where I was living. We became good friends. She STARTED at $65K a year. 26 years ago.
            Raised her daughter there, they stayed until she died. But they were not allowed to own anything (property), paid 4x higher rent than locals there did…
            Take it up with whoever negotiates the contracts – bet it’s the School board & teacher’s union (who pushes the woke agenda)

      • JJ, they were doing all those things, and doing just fine, until the white school district showed up. – M.John

    • > just like we aren’t a collection of mini countries inside our larger nation…

      Well…. the states are *supposed* to be sovereign in the US, not the federal government. The federal government is supposed to be a creature of the states, not the other way around. Now, we’ve drifted away from that arrangement (esp since the end of the civil war), and Alaska in particular is really a giant national park that the Federal government humors with some pretend amount of self-government.

    • We don’t have that information, nor why the parents didn’t want their children to go to school. – sd

    • VERY unlikely that information will ever be made public. Respect is the highest ethic in the Villages – throwing them out is sufficient punishment and total humiliation. The actual reason for doing so will be seen as so disrespectful to both the perps and the victims that exposure will amplify the issue by gossip and copycats and subject the Village and the Region to further disrespect, which is to be studiously avoided. You must be satisfied with understanding that a gentle and respectful people will have discussed the offense among their leaders, who have come to the conclusion that their most extreme punishment – the removal not only of their person, but of their Village identity – was the only responsible reasonable response to a horrible, extreme, situation. Trust the Village to have made the right choice and respect their decision – it was not made lightly or out of any personal vendetta, but to protect the Village.

  4. We certainly need more information about the reason that the tribal leaders wanted the principle arrested and sent out of the village. Eventually she did leave, but we don’t know how many of the 2 administrators, 15 teachers, 3 associate teachers and 12 aides went with her. WOW, talk about an amazing and envious teacher/pupil ratio for a community with 205 students. Also, I didn’t know that there was a census taken in 2014.

    • Only the principal (& perhaps an assistant) & the 15 teachers left.
      The associate teachers a local, as are the 12 aides.
      In other words only the non-native, unionized employees left. Probably 17 total.

  5. Indian country does not exist in Alaska. Without the ability to own land, tribes do not have legal police powers over the residents. Alaska is totally different from the lower 48 reservations. If the locals didn’t like the principal, the school district was the proper place to complain. The school board as well.

    • Indian country does not exist, however tribes are sovereign and have limited authority over their members. Does that limited authority include Insisting the adult tribal members do not send their children to school? Can the tribal council direct the tribal police to banish a tribal member or a non-tribal member? Lots of unknowns. Again, Indian country does not exist in Kipnuk, But tribal sovereignty does exist.

      • Tribal sovereignty means the tribe makes its own laws and abides with them—subject to the Indian Civil Rights Act which is similar but not exactly the same as the US civil rights act.

  6. Well, in the end it seems that the Tribal Banishment Order came to fruition as the Troopers presence merely helped facilitate the “‘Banishment”.

    I wonder if Merrick Garland is aware of this infraction? Do FBI agents even know where Kipnuk is? Does he have agents fluent in Yugtun?

    Moreover, could this be a watershed moment that might lead to citizens reigning in wayward School Administration? Perhaps the crack in the dam that might eventually flood away the NEA?

    • Ring the Bells that still can ring,
      Forget the perfect offering,
      There is a crack in everything,
      That’s how the light gets in….

      Leonard Cohen….

  7. Having grown up in the bush, I saw how the authoritative education system was often at odds with Native culture. I have friends who are still bitter about being traumatized as children. Perhaps it is the teachers and administrators who could use some education about Native culture. It might help improve all our schools, and not just the ones in the bush.

    • benport
      A great idea! I am a native of the region the Romans called Germania. In my culture we wore furs and lived pretty much off of the land. The White colonial oppressors called us Ostrogoths, which was an affront to us much like the name Eskimo is to some. Seems that the White Colonial Oppressor Romans wouldn’t stop screwing with us though. Through incursions into our land they attempted to build forts and establish outposts. Eventually we pulled all of the tribes together and set a trap for the White Colonial Oppressors near the Teutoburg Forest. Once the trap was sprung, we annihilated three of their Legions in a 24 hour period, which was about 20,000 Romans. Funny thing is after that they pretty much left us alone for hundreds of years. Later we begin to trade with the White Colonial Oppressors. Being dishonest they stiffed us with a short payment once, we demanded relief by peacefully surrounding Rome. In the end the Romans paid dearly as we sacked their once great city.

      Yes, lets teach all of our children about our respective cultures. Especially the stories about heroics in the face of Tyranny and White Colonial Oppressors.

      • “White” colonials aren’t the only oppressors in this world. Can we be agnostic and just say the “Oppressors”. Just like colonizers. “Whites” aren’t the only colonizers. Peoples of the same race do it to themselves. Its a Human Nature. I think there are 2 kinds of people in this world, oppressive colonizers and then the rest of us. What about “federal government oppressor’s”. States have been fighting the same sovereignty battle as native peoples. If I look at the optics the State Troopers helped the situation by removing the person(s) that were being evicted. And helped the person by getting them out of the place they weren’t wanted. Win/Win and +1 for the State, without stepping on anyone’s toes. Federal Oppressor’s stay away though. In a way the State has been the arbitrator between the Feds and the peoples. Although I think they’ve been lax of late. Our State should stand up for our people of all races. That’s their mandate from the people we vote into office. Even above that of the people we vote for federal office. If States can be Sovereign over the Feds, then the cities/villages can be sovereign within their area of the State.

  8. Off topic….but I have been waiting for a follow up on the kids in juneau who were served floor sealant instead of milk….any news on that?

  9. “……the Kipnuk Tribal Police were declaring tribal sovereignty as they practiced “banishment,” which tribes in Alaska have been permitted to do. It’s legally unclear in Alaska if tribes are permitted to practice banishment against non-tribal members, and the extent of a village’s sovereign powers is a gray area of the law…….”
    Since it’s an acceptable and practiced act for their culture, can Anchorage banish members of that tribe if they come from the village and cause trouble or fail to fit with Anchorage culture?

      • Not a bad idea, since banishing officials is precisely what Kipnuk is doing, but the long term history is that the villages banished criminals who then went to Anchorage or Fairbanks where their criminal activity blossomed. Ultimately, however, if banishment is good for the goose, why can’t the gander do it, too?

    • We will never know how many of the Anchorage homeless are people who have been banished from their villages. It is not proper to ask for this information. And as well we can never know the reason for their banishment. This adds difficulty in addressing their needs and issues, which complicates the homeless issue further. The assembly has gone through enormous efforts to not disclose this issue, but it is real. In order to help these people that have been thrust into our care, it would be logical to share some information, one would think. Sovereignty should mean responsibility. Responsibility doesn’t mean dump your problem on someone else. We can care for your people that you don’t care for, but let us at least be responsible enough to tell us what their problem is. And if they may have tendencies that would be dangerous to our community. Doesn’t seem like much to ask.

      • Not all the Anchorage homeless are from the villages and not all of them are long-term homeless.

        Banishment is very rarely used. Happens more than what you see in the news though.

        Some of the homeless in Anchorage do have homes in the villages, however…if you spent a chunk of time in the villages, you may understand the appeal for a short or longish stay in an Anchorage shelter.

      • “We will never know how many of the Anchorage homeless are people who have been banished from their villages. It is not proper to ask for this information……..”
        If it’s not proper to ask for this information, then Anchorage can do it, too, and it won’t be proper for Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco to ask for that information.

  10. There needs to be a hard clarification when tribal sovereignty ends and state law begins.

    For example: if the tribes want to banish, fine. But they can’t send them to the cities to take out their tribal “trash”.

  11. Separate State sovereignty inside a State is a mistake and shouldn’t be allowed. If the tribe accepts money from the State of Alaska, it should be subject to the laws of the State of Alaska. The people of this tribe should have the same protections granted under our State and Federal Constitutions. Something about this situation doesn’t sit right and should be investigated by the Attorney General. The tribal police should be working with Troopers, not blockading them.

  12. Happy first day of native American month. The tribal Police were in error here. They have sovereignty over their own people but not over non-village members and certainly not over the state troopers. State troopers have legal jurisdiction over any vpso or tribal Police. Simply put they screwed up. They could probably be charged with obstruction.

    • Greg,
      Wanna bet that never happens? The being charged stuff, And why did they move to banish this woman? I want to know. Maybe she had it coming?

    • They have sovereignty on their own land. Yes there is confusion over competing jurisdiction – but the Troopers not forcing the situation made the right move to keep the peace – they showed respect.

      • Do they have sovereignty on their own land?? Define “their own land”. This is NOT a reservation. The land would be communally owned by the village as an administrative entity, just like the MUNI lands are owned by the Muni, but it remains public property and therefor barring access to law enforcement is not acceptable. We settled the land issue with ANSCA and this fiefdom building is counterproductive. How often do we hear in the legislature that villages have no money for VPSOs or how poorly law is enforced. Yet the troopers show up and are treated with disrespect and denied basic information.

        • Yes, the village tribal land and the village corporation land is held as private land with a sovereign tribe owning it. They have jurisdiction – and yes, there are legal issues that still need to be worked out. I believe the Troopers acted with respectful restraint and prevented the situation from escalating – kudos to them.

          • Interesting. Learn something every day. However your answer does bring up another curiosity. So you state that the land is private property owned by the native corporation and the tribe is sovereign. Yet it seem not to be a true sovereignty. Technically if truly sovereign AND private property then the state has no jurisdiction and therefor no business building, supplying and staffing a school. That should be native corporation business. A corporation private school can teach the values the village/council desires. Seems to me that villages want their cake and eat it too.

      • Yes they do. But they have no control over non village members. When I was at Gamble there were signs about a half mile outside the village proper that said no non village members May trespass. The native Corp there own the entire Island. It’s private property. After we were there for a year or so that rule really didn’t apply or was enforced to us as we were accepted by the tribe.

  13. If that any other group in Alaska attempting a blockade of AST the whole crew would’ve been hauled into jail.. But Western Alaska village all is good. Hey guys thanks for the seal oil an dried salmon cheers as the troopers got on the plane with the school officials. This stuff is mind boggling to me..

  14. This is a federal court case in the making. Alaska’s many so-called “village sovereignties” – which produce all sorts of clamor and conflicts in State and tribal statutes, regulations, law enforcement, and courts – are developing exactly as we have imagined they would. “It must needs be that chaos and animosity come, but woe…” Naturally, the solution to sovereignty adjudication will be even MORE adjudication Many, many attorneys are going to gain their fortunes in state and federal monies, and federal judges will surely compound the present misery. I mourn for all us in this Great Land.

  15. So was it Covid nonsense? Masks, no masks.
    Transgender monkey business, pronouns, gay books for kids.
    What would make these people go on strike, refuse to let their kids go to school & banish this principal?

    I remember a principal telling village school workers “no more Christmas” at school in the 80’s
    No decorations, no Christmas play, no Christmas party.
    After white people introduced ALL those things to the village and everyone had always had Christmas at school and at church – for generations.
    This is how liberal, anti-God, Federal rules” reach all the way to innocent people in a place like Kipnuk

    I told the person I knew “screw em, have your party, put up your Santa Claus & tell the principal to call the troopers, were right here” But Yupiks don’t work that way, until now perhaps.
    I bet Woke nonsense is behind this.

  16. Don’t know any details, but if you work for a village and the elders decide you need to go, isn’t your job over at that point?

        • They are considered state employees. They contribute to their own public employee retirement system, they are under the charge ultimately of the commissioner of education, and work at a school that is a state entity. Kind of splitting hairs aren’t you or are you always that way?

          • Incorrect, Forker. The paycheck comes from the LKSD. The state TERS system is the union requirement. State gives money to the LKSD to fund education.

            Splitting hairs? Nope. It is a big deal. Because liability follows employment. If they were banished, the duty to protect the workers (read: employees of LKSD) falls to the employer. That’s the LKSD. They have liability to protect the workers. Whether it is workers’ compensation or other liability.

            The LKSD will be sued. That is a fact.

    • “…….if you work for a village and the elders decide you need to go, isn’t your job over at that point?”
      If you lose your job in Anchorage, are you banished? Must you flee in fear of your safety? If state police arrive to check on you after receiving a call for assistance, and your employer physically hinders the police, is all forgiven after you flee on a charted flight?
      You’d better pray your employer decides to keep you.

    • Might as well be. Once that happens all you can do is hunker down and get to the end of your contract. It might be good to reflect on what happened to get you to that point though.

  17. Good for the village standing up for themselves. Maybe kipnuk will raise reading scores next. Surprise alaska. Make their kids as smart -or live up to their potential – as eagle academy and petersburg kids.

  18. I would perhaps be more in favor of the tribal sovereignty if the tribes were paying for building their schools, heating their schools, paying for the computers and desks, paying for the teachers and administrators, or contributing financially to any of things they routinely complain about. But, since we pay for those, I’m having a hard time wrapping my mind around “banishment” of anyone who is not of the tribe itself. It’s really, literally, none of their business, and just their opinions.

    • “But, since we pay …..”
      The oil pays, we have no State income or sales tax.
      Some of the oil comes from remote, rural AK where indigenous people live.
      “we”, along w/ Arctic Slope Regional/Doyon drilling, do take it out of the ground & sell it, so there’s that, but we get paid well to do that.
      Side note: Arctic Slope Regional & Doyon have dropped their membership in AFN (AK Fed. of Natives)

  19. Well, I guess the good news is that everyone appears to have come out of this without physical harm. Sounds like some clearer heads prevailed end de-escalated the situation. I can only imagine the outcome though if a neighborhood full of white folks decided to banish a part-black person who had recently moved in and then blocked police access when she felt threatened. Methinks a swat team or the military might have been called in and a lot of neighbors shot dead. Yeah, will be really interesting to see what escalated this. And then watching people dutifully take sides with their political tribe. I tend to favor local control although I also tend to favor local dollars for local infrastructure such as education. Pretty sure “banishment” is not allowed under other local jurisdictions though. Anyhow, glad they all found a way forward for the time being.

  20. This single “event” could potentially make it ever more expensive, arduous, divisive and exponentially complicated to execute critical infrastructure projects throughout rural Alaska. Clearly, we need to know … What, When, Where, How, and Why (ie – the details causing this event) so “rightful” due process can be applied. Without common rules, due process and personal rights, what is the basis of our society?

    • Rob B.,
      Wanna bet what that school cost to construct, since it was built in ground that has less structural integrity than Bird Droppings? Think 50 million., given the population less the kids that works out to 125,000 per resident. Think they floated a bond proposition for the finance of the school? Haw! Guess again Rob B. Especially so since the only payroll outside of the School and Clinic is the guy who handles freight for Grant Aviation.
      I like you want to know the causes for this crisis, But never forget the Costs for the School…

      • Paid for w/ oil $, not the taxes of Alaskans on the road system
        Although some of us on the road system made big paychecks building those schools.

  21. Wild story. Good reporting.

    Who owns the land is a question I have pondered a lot since moving here.

    Remember the recent numbers released of the Alaskan voter rolls? Hardly any kids in the state (18%) according to the rolls v. population. And here is a village with 30%. Much more in line with demographics. Why aren’t the rotten voter rolls cleaned up? Seems ripe for fraud.

    • The land that the school is on usually belongs to “the city”, but Kipnuk never became an “Alaskan City” as many villages did in the 60’s & 70’s. So the land in that town must belong to the tribal entity there. They seem to be more “tribal” then most. Good for them I say, keep government local. Have your standards.

  22. Until we know what started this situation, we have no way of making a judgment. Banishment sounds like a situation in which the tribe found its values threatened. I hope that Suzanne will keep us informed about this.

  23. This school prides itself on having a 100% graduation rate. But only 9% of the ninth grade students are proficient at reading. Holy cow–0% of ninth grade students are proficient at math!! Apparently, this school graduates illiterate and innumerate students. Very sad.

    • There used to be a proficiency test and if you pass that you got to real diploma and they took that away so that everyone who graduates now gets a diploma. If you couldn’t pass the test back in the day you got a participation diploma. Just because someone can’t pass a standardized test doesn’t mean they’re not performing to the best of their ability. You have to walk a mile in their shoes. Maybe they didn’t have the best parents or maybe one of them was thrown in jail and the other one struggled. Maybe the parents were up drinking all night and the kids didn’t get any sleep. Maybe there was no support from the household for them to do homework and parents thought it was the school’s responsibility to raise the kid and educate them too instead of it being a partnership. Before you pass blame you really should know the whole story.

      • Statistics are not passing blame. They are simply numbers that report the educational status of a population. Many school districts in this state are spending oodles of funds and having dismal results. There are lots of places where kids have it rough, but you seem to imply here that village communities/parents do not care about their children. I do not believe that’s true. So in the end, from your comment it seems, this is less an educational/school problem, but a community culture problem. Did I understand you correctly here?

  24. Judging from a number of the comments above, there is a lot of ignorance, judgmentalism, and selfish pride in the dominant culture. Yes, we are used to having our emotions tickled by scandal – but few seem to understand what it takes to keep a remote village functioning and at peace. The cities could learn much and become much more “civilized” simply by learning that “love your neighbor as yourself” includes honoring the dignity of your fellow human and respecting your neighbor.
    Good reporting Suzanne – something happened – now it’s time to let it go.

    • Respectfully, I disagree. This incident epitomizes village attitude. If it embarrasses either the village or the elders, it gets swept under the rug and never again talked about. You claim that villages are more “civilized” and respectful. So if that is truly the case then there is no reason not to see what stirred the ire of the village tribal council. They may be very justified in wanting the school personnel gone, yet they clearly did not treat them with respect or go through the appropriate channels. There was no respect for the troopers either.
      Suzanne, please keep on this! Thank you!

    • Functioning? Functional? At peace?

      Oh my, you’ve bought a bill of goods. If you stopped watching reruns of “Dances with Wolves” and spent a few years in the villages you’d earn a different opinion.

  25. Maybe high time the villages pay for their education and use local teachers and administration. Their kids will be better off and probably score higher than our children in ASD. There’s plenty of highly educated people in the villages that can accommodate teaching and culture without outside help. When you depend on the government to provide then you get what they send you. Don’t ask for free help and then shoot them. You can’t have it both ways.

    • That choice has always been there. The village can refuse off federal and state monies and declare their school a charter school and do what they want, teach what they want, hire who they want. That’s always been available to villages but few act on it.

  26. Remarkable that there is zero information on the basis of the dispute between the community, or perhaps a few influential families and the school district and principal. Without any facts for a basis, it’s interesting to see so many comments with strong positions, all over the map. Obviously the relations between the school district and community are toxic. Is the community divided on whatever the issue(s) are?

  27. Wish I could banish some people in my house this easily.
    “What did you say?” ….”Nothing honey, just mumbling to myself”

  28. ‘https://yuut.org/public-safety/ states it is a 3 week training for the “Basic Village Police Officer (VPO)/ Tribal Police Officer (TPO) Academy” and another 3 week training for the “Advanced Village Police Officer (VPO)/ Tribal Police Officer (TPO) Academy”. 6 weeks of training is NOTHING like the 13 AAC 85.010. Basic standards for police officers and the 13 AAC 85.040. Basic, intermediate, and advanced certificates required by the Alaska Police Standards Council ‘https://dps.alaska.gov/apsc/home . Just one man’s observation.

  29. What is it about the Bethel region that draws all of the degenerates from the White urban areas? No wonder the Natives are so desperate in Bethel .

    • “What is it about the Bethel region that draws all of the degenerates from the White urban areas?…….”
      Maybe it’s the locally held attitude that one can do whatever one wants regardless of the law?

    • Do you try to vilify white people every chance you get? If so, have a good time pretending to be a victim.

      If not, consider that this story revolves around the principal of Kipnuk school and she’s not of the oppressive color you like to disparage.

  30. Okay, question here, if the council thinks the school is not acceptable for students to attend, then why did they exempt student athletes?

    • It’s eligibility report time for high school athletes in Alaska. No coursework. No sports. All the schools play under asaa.org rules for eligibility.

      The high flying Falcons must take the court!

      • In other words, the powers-that-be deem it okay to “expose” kids to “toxic” school staff and teachings, so they can play ball?
        Either the school environment is unsuitable for all or it is not. You can not have it both ways. If the teaching staff was so detrimental that all students had to stay home, then it needs to apply to EVERY student. The local school board, who claims to care greatly about the well-being of ALL students in the village, should accept their student athletes ineligibility for the season. There is considerably more to this story.

    • Sports pretty much rule in the bush. Basketball is King. Many students go to school just to remain eligible to play. It can be a huge motivator if used correctly by parents and teachers.

      • Greg, I totally get the motivator of sports, but you did not answer the basic premise. If the school environment is unsuitable for All students, then why is it okay for those, who are in sports? Aren’t they exposed to the same teachers and classes their fellow non-athletes are? Are the athletes somehow immune to whatever the KTC finds so egregious that they order every other child to stay home??

  31. I remember a long time ago—maybe 1990— When the village of Tyonik, just down the Coast from Anchorage BANISHED All non-native from the Village. Can anyone add to this?

  32. Speaking from personal experience, don’t commit to something you don’t have all the facts about. Especially when it includes remote AK Native Village life. It’s shocking to the Lower 48, and can be intimidating. I served the 907 Villages for a few years (spill response training), and it was a culture shock for me, a sailor that circumnavigated the globe! It’s different, but navigable.

    She probably had no clue as to what she was getting into, chasing the dollar. Most educators seeks AK employment for the dollars, and the experience.

    In the end, Natives rule! And they deserve their rule.

    • That principal has been there for at least eight years; apparently none of these matters were issues until this year.

      Suffice to say, there’s ALOT more going on there than what the traditional council is willing to speak publicly about…Kipnuk has a 100% graduation rate…pretty sure it wasn’t failure to achieve scholastic standards.

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