Tribes, Facing Drug Woes, Banish Troublemakers


Drug addiction and crime are prevalent among 2,000 Lummi Indians in Washington State, says the New York Times. The Lummi tribe has turned to the bygone punishment of banishment, seeking to bar five young men in jail and another recently released. It evicted the 48-year-old matriarch of one clan because her son, a drug dealer, was listed on her house’s lease.

The Times says a growing number of tribes are using banishment as a penalty. The Chippewa of Grand Portage, Minn., use it to rid their reservation of the worst troublemakers and to preserve a shared set of core values. Banishment can mean losing health, housing, and education benefits, rights to fishing and hunting, burial rights, and cash payments from casino profits.

Leaders estimate that at least 500 Indians on the Lummi reservation are addicted to painkillers or heroin, others to alcohol. Guns and violence plague some areas. The value of the annual drug trade on the reservation is estimated at $2 million, surpassing fishing industry profits.


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