Outside researchers partnered with Lingìt Tribal representatives in this research planning project aimed at investigating the potential for strengthening Tribal families and the community of Kake, Alaska that have been affected by domestic violence through the Circle Peacemaking approach to restorative justice.
The authors provide information obtained through the Tribal-Researcher Capacity-Building Grant program, a research planning project where outside experts partnered with Tribal representatives with the goal of strengthening Tribal families and the community of the Organized Village of Kake (OVK) in Alaska, by shedding new light on domestic violence (DV) issues through the Circle Peacemaking approach to restorative justice. Circle Peacemaking is a form of restorative justice that is consistent with Historic Trauma and Unresolved Grief Interventions. Kake instituted a Circle Peacemaking model in 1999 to address substance-related crimes but as of this project, had not yet used this approach for DV cases. The 18-month timeframe the project coincided with the COVID-19 global pandemic, resulting in travel restrictions and the reliance on communications technologies for collaboration. The project design was based on the Tribe’s identified core purpose of “strengthening Tribal community and culture” as well as OVK’s five Core Values of respect, collaboration, endurance, safety, and security. The research partners focused on determining how to incorporate domestic violence (DV) cases into the Circle Peacemaking process, and to study that process. The authors conclude that OVK appears well-suited to explore the use of Circle Peacemaking to address DV in appropriate cases and that it is important to incorporate cultural values of the Tlingit people of OVK into the research and program. The authors also emphasize the importance of the entire research team spending as much time with each other as possible, preferably in the community, to best understand all historical and contextual factors.