Judge upholds Perryville tribal court's right to banish resident for violence

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2003

ANCHORAGE - A Superior Court judge has upheld the right of a tribal village to banish a resident with a long history of alcohol-fueled violence against other villagers.

Judge Peter Michalski refused to dissolve an injunction he issued in 2001 at the request of the Native Village of Perryville, a small Alutiiq community about 200 miles southwest of King Salmon on the Pacific coast of the Alaska Peninsula.

The injunction backed a village tribal court resolution banishing John Tague. It said Tague could not return to Perryville without first getting permission from the local council or the Superior Court.

Michalski said Wednesday that the state's objections were based on "incorrect information" and an "incomplete understanding of the facts."

"The law allows a tribe to 'regulate the internal affairs of its members,' " Michalski wrote, quoting from John v. Baker, a 1999 Alaska Supreme Court decision recognizing the sovereignty of tribal courts here.

The judge also determined that the state is not a legal party in the case and cannot seek dismissal of the injunction.

Assistant Attorney General Dean Guaneli said Wednesday he hadn't seen the decision and didn't know if it would be appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court.

Tague, 36, was raised in Perryville and had been banned for violent behavior in 1997 but allowed to return in 1998. In 1999, he committed a string of assaults that landed him in jail once again. This time the village council, sitting as a tribal court, took testimony from victims and issued the formal banishment.

Concerned about whether Alaska State Troopers would enforce a tribal resolution, the Perryville council sent Anchorage lawyer Sam Fortier, who represents Perryville, to court to get a supporting injunction. Michalski issued it in March 2001.

In January 2003, Tague flew into Perryville, coincidentally on the same plane as a trooper headed for the village on other business. The council showed the injunction to the trooper and asked him to make Tague leave. The trooper served an updated injunction on Tague, who agreed to leave if the village bought his ticket.

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