Alleged bootlegger banned from Akiak

by Mark Arehart on April 11, 2013

The Akiak Tribal court tries to contact Joseph Miranda by phone, April 10.

The Akiak Tribal court tries to contact Joseph Miranda by phone, April 10.

In a short court decision Wednesday, the Akiak Tribal Court voted to banish an alleged bootlegger and drug trafficker from the village indefinitely.

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31-year-old Joseph Miranda, of Anchorage, failed to call in to the hearing yesterday afternoon. According to Akiak Tribal Court officials, Miranda had not responded to three notices, several calls and an ad in the regional newspaper informing him of this court proceeding.

“It is very, very hard to deal with these issues. It’s hard on the family. It’s hard on all of us. It’s hard on the staff, the tribal court staff, to initiate this kind of thing. But when we see children suffer. When we see domestic violence and everything else, and our young people committing suicide. It creates a lot of problems with our children and with our families. We have been living with this for a long time in Akiak,” Tribal Leader Mike Williams Sr. said during the trial.

The small crowd that turned out to hear the decision clapped and cheered.

Longtime Akiak resident Lena Foss said she was proud of the court’s decision.

“I’ve witnessed it, I’ve seen it. You know it’s a hurtful thing to see our community members, my brothers, my sisters, my relatives drunk because of the situation, the people that come and bootleg. I’m an alcoholic myself; I drank from, you know, buying a bottle from him, too. I’m glad they’re doing this. It put a halt to the community, where it’s hurting the community members,” Floss said.

After the hearing, Williams looked relieved sitting on a bench in the back of the room. He says the ball is now in Miranda’s court.

“He needs to contact us. And we will be issuing the order for the tribal police, VPSO (Village Public Safety Officer,) that when he’s seen here he’ll be taken into custody until the tribal court meets with him. And also the tribal council, as ordered by the tribal court judges. So he is banned from Akiak until then.”

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