Akiak attempts to banish former VPO, alleged bootlegger

Aug 23, 2017

Akiak Native Community IRA Council issued a banishment order for Jacques Anthony Cooper, a former Village Police Officer they accuse of bootlegging. He denies the allegations, says tribe turned against him on account of his law enforcement work.

Akiak residents confront Jacques Cooper, a former VPO who multiple community members claim sold alcohol and marijuana illegally. The confrontation was live streamed on Facebook.
Credit courtesy Mike Williams

KYUK, Bethel: Akiak residents are trying to banish a former Village Police Officer, Jacques Anthony Cooper. 

Cooper moved to Akiak last year when his wife was hired as a Special Education teacher at the local school. Community members have accused him of bootlegging and selling marijuana to both adults and minors in the village.

On August 10, the Akiak Native Community IRA Council issued an order of banishment and gave Cooper seven days to leave the community. Cooper is still there. Last Sunday, a group of Akiak residents angrily confronted him. It was live streamed on Facebook.

Akiak Residents Confront Former Village Police Officer, Alleged Bootlegger from KYUK on Vimeo.

"You are banished from Akiak!" a man shouts in the video.

"We can ban anyone," says a woman in the background. "The tribe can ban anyone."

"For [what]?" says Cooper.

"For what you’re doing - drug dealing and bootlegging!" the woman shouts. "Mr. Refill-A-Jug!"

As of this writing, the post has 4,400 views, 59 shares, and dozens of comments.

Cooper denies all of the allegations. He claims that his trouble in Akiak started last fall, when he was still working as a VPO and tried to arrest the nephew of the village Mayor. Cooper also says that Akiak residents have shot at his house multiple times, an allegation he raised during the confrontation Sunday.

"I don’t trust any of you all," Cooper says in the video. "Particularly after people [were] shooting at my house twice."

"That wasn’t us!" someone in the crowd yells. "That person that was shooting is probably not even here!"

In an interview yesterday, Akiak Native Community Chief Ivan M. Ivan denied that any shooting had occurred.  

Both Ivan and Tribal Council member Mike Williams defended the practice of banishment, arguing that it ensures their community’s safety.

"We do not appreciate anyone coming here and selling alcohol and drugs or anything like that to our community members," said Williams. "We just won’t stand for that, and our ancestors didn’t stand for that either."

KYUK's investigation into this story is ongoing.