Believe What You Like But Know What You Must

People are free to be consumed with contemplating their existence, their origins, the origins of the universe, supreme beings, controllers of destiny or anything else. But solving "the Great Mystery" is neither a requirement of being Ohnkwe Ohnwe nor does it provide a path to righteousness. I maintain that spirituality does not require faith or the leaps that faith requires but rather awareness. If it helps to believe that "God has a plan" and we just must have faith that "He" knows what "He" is doing, then walk that path. My interest is in taking the mystery out of life by pointing to the obvious that is ignored everyday in the midst of fanatical ideology and the sometimes not too subtle influences of promoting beliefs over knowledge. I have said it before: “beliefs are what you are told, knowledge is what you experience”. I support a culture that prepares us to receive knowledge and to live a life with purpose. I am certainly not suggesting there is only one way to do that.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

This was an email set to the Center for Public Integrity regarding their "Tobacco Underground Project" (see sidebar)

Your characterization of sales on Native territories is not only wrong, it is intentionally wrong. You call these sales illicit, but you left the word out of your glossary. If by the term you mean illegal, isn't it curious that we are not all operating in shadows of your ominous black market? Our sales are as legal as are our purchases, our manufacturing, our distribution and our importing. This seems to have been missed in the reporting. Perhaps Mr. Bloomberg's maniacal obsession with smoking and his blatant racism towards Natives skews your objectivity in this area. The fact that Native people have carved out a tiny market share of an industry that hijacked a product that we originally domesticated for trade and consumption also seems to be missed and is at least ironic. The vast majority of our sales are to the end user and are legal. Those that claim that we have no right to market our regulatory advantages to those that do not live in our communities must not be aware that cities, counties, states, countries and continents have been doing the same thing for centuries. The global economy and those that benefit from it prey on labor practices that are tantamount to slavery, environmental permissiveness that is leading to a global climate crisis and tax evasion and avoidance that puts your Tobacco Underground to shame. The United States is only one of four nations of the world that rejected the U.N. Declaration of Indigenous Rights. Perhaps if they move quickly they can stomp out one of the only private sector industries that has ever prospered in "Indian Country" before the international pressure to sign the Declaration (which protects indigenous economies) overcomes the "Change We Can Believe In". We have a million stories of injustice to tell you that don't involve how much we are screwing the tax man. Did you hear the one about how Lincoln signed the largest mass execution order in the history of the U.S. Justice system (39 Indians sentenced to death after over three hundred were tried in a single day)? Come on you guys! Don't fall for this crap. Even if Bloomberg is funding you, show some journalistic integrity. 98% percent of our population was wiped out in the largest and most participated in act of genocide the world has ever known and this is what you want to include us in. Why don't you write about how our 2% are doing?

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