Two banished teenagers, observing their first Christmas on remote Southeast islands, have received wrapped gifts from "Santa Koosh" - the Tlingit version of Saint Nicholas.

Diana Wynne-James, a child welfare specialist overseeing the progress of Adrian Guthrie and Simon Roberts, says the Klawock boys were given personal items and survival gear."The small things to us here, like breaking an axe handle, are big things out there," Wynne-James said.

The welfare specialist reports to a county court in Snohomish, Wash., which in an unprecedented move transferred sentencing for Guthrie and Roberts to a trial court at Klawock.

Guthrie and Roberts, who are cousins, were 17 when they were convicted in the brutal beating and robbery of a pizza delivery man in 1973. The tribal court ordered banishment in August and the boys were delivered to separate undisclosed islands off Alaska's southeast coast.

Rudy James, a tribal court judge who convinced the Washington court to consider alternate sentencing, said the tribe was going ahead with plans to raise $200,000 to build a home for Tim Whittlesey, the robbery victim. "It's our responsibility to care for his welfare," Rudy James said.

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He said the youths had seen each other only rarely since banishment was imposed. Guthrie was taken to Ketchikan last week so a dentist could remove his wisdom teeth. Clinic officials said he became threatening during the procedure; no charges were filed after Guthrie said he was upset because the extraction hurt and he was not given pain killers promptly.

Wynne-James said tribal elders visit the islands unannounced, as often as every three weeks. Sometimes the world beyond banishment prompts a visit: Elders say they arrived by boat in October and kept the boys with them to ride out a tsunami alert. Heavy snow five weeks ago called for another checkup.

"There's always an element of suspense coming around the point," Rudy James said. "It's always a relief to see smoke coming out of the chimney."

Tribal leaders say the boys were learning self-reliance in the wilderness. Guthrie and Roberts were keeping themselves clean and their houses orderly, authorities said. They found it hard to be apart from friends, Wynne-James said, but were showing initiative.

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