ONAMIA, Minn. -- Fed up with a recent spate of chronic lawlessness, tribal lawyers for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe are turning to a tool both new and ancient to rid their community of troublemakers.
Four band members were recently banished from the reservation -- excluded for five years based on myriad assaults and weapons violations.
Tribes in Canada, Arizona, New York and Washington state also have turned to the old practice in recent years.
Such punishment was at one time essentially a death sentence. Those ostracized were either left to the whims of enemy tribes or, more likely, starved or froze alone without the help of their community. The modern-day version, formally called exclusion, is less harsh.
For example in the Mille Lacs Band, an excluded member is still entitled to the $7,000 yearly share of Grand Casino gambling profits -- as long as the deposit is done automatically or a relative picks up the checks, because the excluded can't set foot on the reservation and can be held in contempt or charged in state court with trespass for trying.
The four newly banished members can request reinstatement in 2013 if they remain law-abiding and can show they've been working regularly.
"It's an extreme way to deal with a problem and a little bit rare," said Solicitor General Rjay Brunkow, the top lawyer for the Mille Lacs Band of 4,000 members, about 100 miles north of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
"I think you're going to see it more and more as gangs and criminal elements start to make their way onto the reservations, especially those closer to metro areas."
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