Blackfeet Tribe decides to banish drug dealers

The Blackfeet Tribal Business Council has voted to banish accused drug dealers from the reservation because they argue federal prosecutors aren’t doing enough to pursue cases against them.

Chairman Harry Barnes tells the Flathead Beacon that banishment has been used as a punishment on the reservation before and the tribe will start using it again.

He said “known drug dealers” will be escorted to the reservation boundary and informed that if they come back they will be arrested.

Tribal courts can only prosecute misdemeanors. Any felonies on the reservation must be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office. The tribe says the federal government has left some cases uncharged.

Barnes says banishment would not apply to suspected drug users, just dealers “who are preying on our reservation and our people.”