Not Afraid, Goes Ahead factions clash in Water Resources Building
Thursday, February 7, 2019
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Photo by Andrew Turck

A supporter of Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid struggles against a supporter of Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead Friday afternoon during the Not Afraid faction’s push to take back the Water Resources Building in Crow Agency. Everyone who set foot in the building, according to Bureau of Indian Affairs Officer Josie Porter, technically was trespassing.

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A member of Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid’s faction is arrested by the Bureau of Indian Affairs after attempting to break a phone belonging to Amber Old Horn, a supporter of Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead.

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Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid speaks to supporters from the steps of the Crow Tribal Finance Building in Crow Agency. Last week, volunteers for Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead removed boxes of financial documents from this location.

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Photo by Andrew Turck

Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead, who was elected Crow chairman Jan. 19 in a contested petition removal election, pushes back against opposing members of Alvin “A.J” Not Afraid’s security team.

Editor’s note: Because of time and space constraints, a scheduled article on the legal rationales behind the claims to Crow chairmanship by Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid and Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead has been delayed. Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Political tensions between two Crow tribal factions boiled over at about 4 p.m. Friday when the Water Resources Building, for roughly two minutes, became the site of what could be described as an angry mosh pit. The two parties involved in the Crow Agency incident were security teams representing Alvin “A.J.” Not Afraid and Carlson “Duke” Goes Ahead, who – following a contested Jan. 19 removal petition election against the former – both claim the title of tribal chairman.

Standing at the building’s entrance shortly before the incident, Goes Ahead was accompanied by a group of volunteer security he said had “been watching Crow Resources peacefully” for the past four to five days. In response to his faction’s occupation of the area, a group of security for Not Afraid crossed an icy parking lot toward Goes Ahead to take back the building. One member from the Not Afraid faction, who later was arrested by Bureau of Indian Affairs officers, carried a small battering ram on his shoulder.

Not Afraid wasn’t present at the time, he said, because his job was to run the Crow Nation, rather than fight over buildings. He added that Goes Ahead, who he believes to be the vice chairman, should work from his own office and “not occupy the offices of other employees.”

“As chairman, I got meetings, I got a job to do,” Not Afraid said. “If I have to cater with what the staff have to do, then why would I hire staff?”

His security team was led by Crow media liaison Jared Stewart, who held a letter from acting tribal CEO Vianna Stewart reporting Goes Ahead’s faction to the BIA for alleged burglary, trespass and theft of documents. Prior to crossing the parking lot, Jared noted he didn’t “want to have any altercations,” but added that Goes Ahead’s group was “showing aggressive behavior just in occupying the building.” When asked if he knew how they would retake the Water Resources Building, he said, “not yet.”

“Get out of here,” Goes Ahead told Jared as he approached. “Your chairman is not the chairman.

“This is just trying to bully and harass, that’s what you’re doing.”

Several times as he spoke, the battering ram could be heard striking the parking lot’s asphalt. According to Goes Ahead, he smelled alcohol on some members of Not Afraid’s faction as they drew closer.

Negotiations soon devolved into a shoving match between the two groups as Not Afraid’s team first tried to push through the Goes Ahead faction, then failing to do that, went through the side door with the battering ram. Goes Ahead’s security went in through the front.

Within the building as the two groups met, a shelf crashed to the ground and – from the back – the electric clicking of a taser could be heard as someone held the weapon in the air.

Crow Media Director Levi C. Flinn, who had arrived with Jared, entered the main lobby and began taking photos of the clash, but Shawn Backbone spotted his camera and attempted to grab it through the doorway to an adjacent room. Backbone, a member of Goes Ahead’s faction, currently lays claim to the title of tribal secretary, as does Knute Old Crow.

When Flinn held the camera out of reach, a separate person slapped it from his hand.

“Hey, knock it off,” he said, trying to leave the building. “Let me out. At least let me out.”

“That’s tribal property,” Backbone said, entering the lobby. He reached out and grabbed the camera strap.

“Hey!” Flinn yelled as they struggled with the camera. “No!”

During their altercation, Flinn received a cut on his finger and the camera was damaged. After watching a recording of the incident, Not Afraid said, “I’ve never seen Shawn abuse fellow staff, but looking at the video, I was very surprised.”

“Levi works in media,” he said. “Why would he be aggressive in trying to take equipment?”

Backbone did not return a request for comment.

While law enforcement filed into the parking lot following the incident, BIA Officer Josie Porter parried interruptions as she said to both Goes Ahead and Jared that, technically, everyone involved in the incident was trespassing. Due to the current tribal government issues, she continued, “the entire building should be shut down.”

“Constantly breaking the law here is not going to get anybody anywhere,” Porter said. “If all these businesses are shut down until we figure out what’s going on, nobody should be in them.”

Much of the day was recorded by Amber Old Horn, a supporter of Goes Ahead whose phone later was taken from her by a member of Not Afraid’s faction and thrown on the ground. For the perpetrator, another BIA arrest ensued.

“We are doing a peaceful demonstration, but they are the ones that were being aggressive,” Goes Ahead told Old Horn as he reflected on the day's events. “We’re just like Martin Luther King and Gandhi… We’re all Apsaalooke and it shouldn’t be like this.”

Not Afraid, for his part, intends to continue “business as usual” in tribal government, saying attempts by Goes Ahead’s faction to occupy buildings will be a matter for his security to handle if BIA declines to remove them. Tribal services, he continued, still must be provided to the general public.

By 5:20 p.m. that day, Not Afraid declared a state of emergency for the Crow Tribe and ordered a curfew in Crow Agency between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. This document, he stated, was drafted “due to criminal syndicalism and incitement to mobs.”