The Banishing Judge

The author of a plan to punish two young Native Americans has credibility problems of his own

The mythologies of many Native American tribes feature a character known to anthropologists as the trickster. He is both good and bad; a creator but also a mischief maker. Above all, he is duplicitous: joyously, energetically deceptive. Among the Tlingit people of western Alaska, the trickster figure is known as the Raven. At the moment, however, someone bearing a striking resemblance to him is roaming the Ketchikan area under another name.

Last Thursday marked the first day of what is without question the most widely publicized legal proceeding in Tlingit history. In the 750-person lumber and fishing town of Klawock, Alaska,...

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