Alaska, indigenous people, and alcohol

It’s a telecommuting day, so I have the TV on while I’m working. Alaska State Troopers is on. I’m not paying attention to the TV, but I gather it’s illegal for indigenous people to take alcohol back to their villages.

Since this is about state law enforcement, am I correct in assuming that the prohibition is state law? Are the indigenous villages not sovereign, as reservations are down here?

I completely understand that alcohol abuse is a problem in indigenous communities in Alaska and the lower 48. What I’m curious about is this: Alaska is not a dry state (AFAIK). If the prohibition against taking alcohol home is a state law that applies only to indigenous peoples, how is that Constitutional?

In Canada, Indian Reserves are “self governing territories”. They like to hold the conceit form time to time that they are independent self-governing territories. Usually Ottawa indulges them. As creations of treaty with the federal government, they are typically exempt from provincial laws. (Criminal law is federal in Canada)

The reserve itself is private property, held in trust by the federal government for the band. The band can pass whatever bylaws it wants, subject to approval by Indian Affairs. Usually, this is what the dry law is - band bylaws, which band police and the mounties will enforce. Access to the reserve is, like any private property, at the consent of the inhabitants or ultimately, the band; so a private citizen cannot just wander onto the reserve carrying alcohol, band member or not.

Not sure how it works in the States. Obviously to some extent as land under federal treaty they seem to be exempt from some state laws. So do criminal matters fall under state prosecution, or is there a special federal body of laws?

Alaska laws, at least '94-'97, varied with the community. And communities could change their laws quite often. Also some communities were entirely under the rule of the local group with regard to many of these issues.

It certainly isn’t illegal in Alaska for natives to take alcohol to their villages. However, some villages have bans on alcohol. But of course the laws don’t mention ethnicity, if a village is dry it’s dry for whites as well as natives.

The State Troopers are probably involved because lots of small villages don’t have their own law enforcement and rely on the state force.

Through very quick googling and scanning, I found this on the Alaska Local Option Law. It seems that a number of towns in Alaska ban both the sale and importation of alcohol.

That makes sense.