Strange tales of Alaskan Justice…no it’s not on the National Geographic Channel

My stories of Alaskan style Justice come from my travels to Alaska, and the first story came from the back of a taxi cab from the Anchorage airport to my hotel in downtown Anchorage.

It was somewhere in 1995, and probably in winter, because I did most of my business in cold weather apparel, and of course, that’s when it was coldest, and when clients wanted to see me.

My cab driver was a native lady, somewhere in her mid forties, long black hair, dark skinned, and wearing the usual fleece jacket and jeans that was the uniform of most cabbies in Anchorage.

I have no idea how the conversation started, but it was about justice, and the lady said, “Hell, there’s no justice in this world – let me tell you about real justice,” She had a wide smiling face, and she told the story to me while looking into the rearview mirror.

“So we had this kid in our village who was stealing all the time, and no matter how many times we called the cops, he just kept at it, robbing all the houses,” she said.

I realized by “village,” she meant reservation, but I didn’t want to stop the flow of the story, so I just asked, “So what did you do?”

She laughed, it was a lovely laugh that spoke of long Alaskan winter nights and longer summer evenings, “Well, you know a bunch of us grabbed that kid and took him out to the woods. It was the middle of summer, and we tied him to a tree, buck naked, yep we stripped his clothes off and left him there.”

“All night naked?” I asked in disbelieve.

“Oh yeah,” She replied, the chuckle now making her slightly large body shake in the drivers seat of the cab. “Yeah the mosquitos, black flies, and who knows what kind of animals bite on him, did a little taste – no what I mean?” Her eyes flashed knowingly in the rearview mirror.

I sat in the back of the cab thinking of this poor teenage kid alone in the Alaskan summer night, which would not be night, but mostly daylight, with bugs feasting on his flesh and curious animals dropping by to check the strange scent of this human flesh “lollipop,” attached to a tree.

“What happened after that?” I asked.

“Ha, that kid never stole again, hell no, and that’s Justice Alaskan style!” she said with a broad grin.

I’ve thought of that story for years, and before I wrote this I called up a person I’d become friends with in Alaska. I asked him about this thing called Alaskan style justice.

He said, “Hell yeah, we practiced that in my village too.” My friend is native American, and he meant the reservation he lived on.

“What was your experience,” I asked.

“My old man would tell me that the man next door had beat his wife, and he’d tell me to go next door a lay a beating on the guy.”

“Why didn’t your Dad go?”

“I was seventeen, the Alaskan State Troopers couldn’t touch me.”

“But at seventeen…you were that tough?” I knew my friend was tough, but I was amazed at this.

“Hell yeah, remember my dad was part white and part Indian, so I was different, and my cousins used to beat the crap out of me all the time. Called me baked potato, which meant white on the inside and brown on the outside.”

“No one stopped your beatings?”

“Nah,” my friend said, there was only the slightest hesitation on the phone, “My dad told me I had to toughen up, and learn how to fight – to strike first.” He laughed, “Yeah, I guess I learned how to give out my own measure of Alaskan Justice! I knocked on that guys door, and BAM, he went down like a sack of meat when he came to the door – and he’d never beat his wife again.”

And those are my stories of Alaskan style justice. You won’t find these on National Geographic, where the Alaskan State Troopers chase down a host of Alaskan’s behaving badly, no these are behind the scenes – let’s say off camera. I cannot say I agree with this style of justice, but the story just had to written.

I’ve written a book of fiction called Polar Bear Dawn, where I’ve incorporated a scene of Justice Alaskan style. You will find it on Amazon, Kindle and Kobo.

Perhaps you’ll read it, and if not, I hope you’ve enjoyed this Blog about the strange tales of Justice Alaskan style, because these…well they are real…although they seem so strange…you wonder why someone hasn’t put them into a book. Perhaps I will.

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Lyle Nicholson is the author of four novels, two novellas and a short story, as well as several articles published in Canadian Magazines and Newspapers. His path to his writing was first as a terrible actor in a Johnny Cash movie, called Gospel Road. He played Andrew the Apostle and apologizes to all who see him in the movie.
He was also a disobedient monk for several years and left the monastery to work at several jobs he’d was highly unsuccessful at until he started his own sales agency, where he finally had success. This was to the delight of his wife and his mother.
He retired in 2011 and took up writing full time. He now lives with his lovely wife in Kelowna, where he writes, cooks and indulges in fine wines.

One thought on “Strange tales of Alaskan Justice…no it’s not on the National Geographic Channel”

  1. This is a great story… I think some people also call this two by four justice! Your book sounds like a good read. Just one note – when your cab driver started talking about her “village” she did not mean reservation, unless she was from Metlakatla. That’s the only reservation in Alaska.

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