What others say: The village of Tanana needs Alaska’s support

  • Wednesday, May 14, 2014 5:12pm
  • Opinion

The killing of two Alaska State Troopers last week has devastated the agency. It has brought tears and sadness to Alaskans. And it has brought unspeakable grief to the family members of the two troopers, Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Gabriel “Gabe” Rich.

It also has wrenched Tanana, a small community sitting where the Tanana River meets the powerful Yukon.

Tanana, too, is a victim in this crime. And Alaskans should recognize this.

Curtis Sommer, the chairman of the Tanana Tribal Council in the Native Village of Tanana, wrote a brief and moving condolence message that was published in the Daily News-Miner on Monday.

In it, Mr. Sommer writes not only of Tanana’s anguish but also of its wish to distance itself from the gunman.

“We wish to express our grief, tears, love and hugs that we want to give these brave officers wives and children and the rest of the Alaska State Troopers who serve urban and rural Alaska.

“We want them to know that this was the action of individuals and that this was not, and is not, Tanana.”

Tanana tribal leaders acted swiftly, on Tuesday to distance the community from two others who they believe played an indirect role in the deaths of the troopers, banishing the men for life. That decision was followed Wednesday by a supportive vote by the Tanana City Council.

One of the men banished is Arvin Kangas, whose action against a village public safety officer on April 30 led to Sgt. Johnson and trooper Rich being sent to the village, where they were killed. Arvin Kangas’ son, Nathanial, is charged with murder in their deaths.

The other man banished hasn’t had much notoriety. He is William Walsh, reportedly the leader of a group known as Athabascan Nation. The group doesn’t recognize the authority of the state government and has been in conflict with the Tanana tribal government.

Tribal leaders believe Nathanial Kangas was heavily influenced by anti-authority talk from both men.

Banishment is an almost unheard-of occurrence. Deciding to impose it shows just how deeply Tanana believes it, too, has been wounded.

The community will heal, in time. Alaskans can help by remembering that the actions of a few people do not define an entire community.

— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,

May 9

More in Opinion

Larry Persily (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: State’s ‘what if’ lawsuit doesn’t much add up

The state’s latest legal endeavor came July 2 in a dubious lawsuit — with a few errors and omissions for poor measure

The entrance to the Homer Electric Association office is seen here in Kenai, Alaska, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion file)
Opinion: Speak up on net metering program

The program allows members to install and use certain types of renewable generation to offset monthly electric usage and sell excess power to HEA

Gov. Mike Dunleavy signs bills for the state’s 2025 fiscal year budget during a private ceremony in Anchorage on Thursday, June 25, 2024. (Official photo from The Office of the Governor)
Alaska’s ‘say yes to everything’ governor is saying ‘no’ to a lot of things

For the governor’s purposes, “everything” can pretty much be defined as all industrial development

Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. board members, staff and advisors meet Oct. 30, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The concerns of reasonable Alaskans isn’t ‘noise’

During a legislative hearing on Monday, CEO Deven Mitchell referred to controversy it’s created as “noise.”

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Crime pays a lot better than newspapers

I used to think that publishing a quality paper, full of accurate, informative and entertaining news would produce enough revenue to pay the bills

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo
Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom addresses the crowd during an inaugural celebration for her and Gov. Mike Dunleavy at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall on Jan. 20, 2023.
Opinion: The many truths Dahlstrom will deny

Real conservatives wouldn’t be trashing the rule of law

Gov. Mike Dunleavy discusses his veto of a wide-ranging education bill during a press conference March 16 at the Alaska State Capitol. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Governor, please pay more attention to Alaskans

Our governor has been a busy guy on big issues.

Priya Helweg is the acting regional director and executive officer for the Region 10 Office of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
Happy Pride Month

This month is dedicated to acknowledging and uplifting the voices and experiences of the LGBTQI+ community

A roll of “I voted” stickers sit at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Juneau in 2022. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Strengthening democracy: Native vote partners to boost voter registration

GOTNV and VPC are partnering to send over 4,000 voter registration applications this month to addresses and P.O. boxes all over Alaska

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.
Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

Ballot booths are set up inside Kenai City Hall on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Perspective from an election worker

Here is what I know about our Kenai Peninsula Borough election system

Apayauq Reitan, the first transgender woman to participate in the Iditarod, tells the House Education Committee on March 30, 2023, why she opposes a bill restricting transgender rights. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: The imaginary transgender sports crisis

House Bill 183 is a right-wing solution to a problem that doesn’t exist now and never will.