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The man allowed Evan to search the suitcase, which reeked of booze, and in it Evan found more than 10 liters of alcohol. In most of the country, a suitcase leaking liquor would be an annoyance, not a crime.But this is rural Alaska, which has had a complicated relationship with alcohol for much of the past 50 years.And many villages, including Chevak, have banned the sale and importation of alcohol.But some residents say that the prohibition on liquor sales has only made things worse.Even when European settlers brought alcohol to Alaska, local laws prohibited them from selling it to Native Alaskans.When tribal laws banning the consumption of alcohol were nullified with statehood in 1959, though, alcohol began flowing into the cities, states, and bush communities with alarming speed.BETHEL, Alaska—In March of this year, state troopers stopped a 59-year-old man who was headed for the tiny village of Chevak.His suitcase was leaking alcohol, so an airline employee called over state trooper Jerry Evan.
“It’s the same thing with drinking, they don’t have the same culture of drinking that European people have.This spring in Bethel, a local supermarket applied for a package liquor-store license, and to the surprise of just about everyone, the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Board said it would allow it.Previously, the city council had protested each liquor-store license application, and the board had listened, and denied every request. In early October, the town will hold an advisory vote on the issue, allowing citizens to weigh in on whether they want liquor sold in town.* * *Europeans have had access to alcohol for thousands of years.But Native Alaskans have only had access to booze for a few hundred.