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Alaska tribal council votes to banish sovereign citizen pair after state troopers’ slayings

By Travis Gettys
Monday, May 19, 2014 9:41 EDT
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An Alaska village has voted to banish two sovereign citizens after one of the men’s son was charged with fatally shooting two state troopers.

Nathanial Kangas is accused of shooting to death Trooper Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Trooper Gabriel Rich as they attempted to arrest his father May 1 in connection with a dispute over a $150 couch.

Both victims appeared on the National Geographic reality show “Alaska State Troopers.”

The Tanana Tribal Council began the process May 6 to banish Arvin Kangas and William “Billy” Walsh, who are members of the “Athabascan nation” group that considers Alaska law enforcement to be a violation of Native Alaska sovereignty.

The 250-person village turned to the rarely used traditional punishment to expel the pair, and Tanana’s tribal court will make the final decision on banishment in a trial.

“This is the only way we have to remove individuals who are — how do we say it? — who are dangerous to members of the community,” said Council Chairman Curtis Sommer.

He said Walsh, one of the most vocal leaders of the informal antigovernment group, had been aggressive toward and threatened violence against village tribal council members for decades.

He pleaded guilty in 2011 to assault with a weapon, and he has been charged several times in connection to violent encounters – most recently last year with assault and harassment.

Members of the “Athabascan nation” disrupted a May 3 community meeting before walking out.

“When they spoke, they just hollered it out, and nobody likes to hollered at,” Sommer said. “The hollering just makes it impossible to understand.”

Kangas remains held in Fairbanks on charges related to the shootings, and Walsh left town before the council voted to banish both men.

A staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund said tribal councils have authority over members, and she said banishment would be permitted as a “last resort” if the individuals posed a threat to the community.

The state will evaluate any request by Tanana council officials about enforcing a banishment order, which have been informally enforced elsewhere by Alaska authorities.

Nathaniel Kangas, who was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of third-degree assault, remains held on $4 million bond.

He faces up to 200 years in prison if convicted.

 
 
 
 
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