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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Friday, December 17, 2010

Execution 150 Years Ago Spurs Calls for Pardon




By ROBERT K. ELDER
Published: December 13, 2010, New York Times


MANKATO, Minn. — On Dec. 26, 1862, thirty-eight doomed Dakota Indians wailed and danced atop the gallows, waiting for the trapdoors to drop beneath them. The square scaffold, built here to accommodate the largest mass execution in United States history, swayed under their weight.
“It seemed that the purpose of the singing and dancing was only to sustain each other in their last ordeal,” a witness observed. “As the last moment rapidly approached, they each called out their name and shouted in their native language: ‘I’m here! I’m here!’ ”
Thirty-seven of the men were among the “most ferocious” followers of the Dakota leader Little Crow, according to the federal government. They stood accused of killing approximately 490 settlers, including women and children, in raids along the Minnesota frontier.
But one man, historians say, did not belong there. A captured Dakota named We-Chank-Wash-ta-don-pee, often called Chaska, had had his sentence commuted by President Abraham Lincoln days earlier. Yet on the day after Christmas 1862, Chaska died with the others.
It was a case of wrongful execution, Gary C. Anderson, a history professor at the University of Oklahoma and Little Crow biographer, said last week in an interview. “These soldiers just grabbed the wrong guy,” he said.
Although the story of the mass execution in Mankato is well-known locally, scholars say the case of Chaska — spared by Lincoln, then wrongfully executed — has been long overlooked by the federal government and all but forgotten even by the Dakota.
Now, an effort to keep the story alive is taking root on campuses and even on Capitol Hill as the 150th anniversary of the execution, in 2012, approaches. Commemorative events will include symposiums, museum exhibits, monument re-dedications, book publications and an original symphony and choral production.
“It’s time to talk about it and time for people to know about it,” said Gwen Westerman, a professor of English at Minnesota State University at Mankato and a member of the Dakota who is planning to investigate Chaska’s case and the cultural context of the conflict with a class. She says she is hoping her students can “put together some more pieces of the puzzle.”
“Because there is a historical record” for Chaska’s commutation, Ms. Westerman said, “that’s a good place to start.”
A move to award Chaska (pronounced chas-KAY) a posthumous pardon has drawn some initial support. Before his defeat in November, Representative James L. Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota, said a federal pardon would be “a grand gesture and one I think our Congressional delegation should support.”
“A wrong should be righted,” he added.
Senator Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat who sits on the Committee on Indian Affairs, issued a statement last week signaling that he might move the issue forward.
“Senator Franken recognizes that this is a tragic period in history,” said his press secretary, Ed Shelleby. “The senator will continue to look into this incident in the next Congress.”
Tension between the Dakota, historically called the Sioux, and the influx of settlers had been mounting for years before the Civil War, which further strained United States resources, disrupting food and supplies promised to the Dakota in a series of broken peace treaties. One local trader, Andrew Myrick, said of the Indians’ plight, “If they are hungry, let them eat grass.”
Enraged and starving, the tribe attacked and plundered the new state’s settlements. Of the 400-plus Dakota and “mixed blood” men detained by Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings Sibley, 303 were sentenced by a military court to death. But Lincoln found a lack of evidence at most of the tribunals, and he reduced the number of the condemned to 38.
We-Chank-Wash-ta-don-pee’s case was No. 3 and not listed in the execution order handwritten by Lincoln, but his fate may have been the result of mistaken identity. The man he died for was No. 121, identified by Lincoln as Chaskey-don or Chaskey-etay, who had been condemned for murdering a pregnant woman.
But historians say something far more complex may have been responsible for Chaska’s death: rumor. During the raids, Chaska took a white woman, Sarah Wakefield, and her children prisoner — not an uncommon occurrence during the Dakota War.
What was uncommon, however, was Wakefield’s defense of her captor at his military tribunal. Chaska defended her and her children, she said, and kept them from certain death and abuse at the hands of his fellow tribesmen. “If it had not been for Chaska,” Wakefield said, “my bones would now be bleaching on the prairie, and my children with Little Crow.”
One prison chaplain wrote to her after the hanging: “Dear Madam: In regard to the mistake by which Chaska was hung instead of another, I doubt whether I can satisfactorily explain it.”
Wakefield firmly believed that Chaska was executed on purpose, in retaliation for her testimony and in reaction to rumors that she and Chaska were lovers. General Sibley, who appointed the tribunal that convicted Chaska, privately referred to him as Wakefield’s “dusky paramour.”
Wakefield denied any sexual relationship in the booklet she wrote the year after his death, titled “Six Weeks in the Sioux Teepees.” She wrote, “I loved not the man, but his kindly acts."
Some details of the conflict have been willfully buried or forgotten, by both sides of the war. The Dakota conflict came in 1862, which historians have described as Lincoln’s “darkest year” during the Civil War. It was the year the president lost his 11-year-old son, Willie, to typhoid fever. Thousands died on the battlefields at the Battle of Bull Run and at Fredericksburg, as Lincoln fought with his own generals. In large part, the narrative of mass execution in Mankato was lost in the United States’ struggle to preserve the union.
Lincoln himself was distressed at the speed of the military tribunals that condemned 303 men, and his decision to commute most of the sentences was politically dangerous. But he said, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.” The 265 Dakota Indians Lincoln spared from the gallows were either fully pardoned or died in prison.
Modern Mankato, once a prairie outpost, is now a city of 37,000, where a modest downtown struggles for survival, competing against outlying strip malls and chain stores.
The only reminders that 38 Indians died here is a Dakota warrior statue and plaque outside the local library. The location of the actual scaffold is now called Reconciliation Park.
Glenn Wasicunna, a Dakota language teacher and husband of Ms. Westerman, said that for decades, his people would not even drive through Mankato during the day. The place carried too many memories, too much cultural trauma, he said.
“These were our family,” Ms. Westerman added. “These were people my great-grandparents knew. They have a direct effect on who we are.”
Each year on Dec. 26, the annual Mankato memorial run acknowledges those who died in the mass execution. But Wayne Wells, a Dakota language teacher on the nearby Prairie Island reservation, said there would be a range of response to a pardon just for Chaska. Many Dakota, he said, “consider all of them to be innocent martyrs — people who stood up and died for us.”
However, Leonard Wabasha, a local Dakota leader, said a federal pardon for Chaska would “shine a light.”
“It would cause people to read and research into it a little deeper,” Mr. Wabasha said. “It would be a step in the right direction.”

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Kanienkehaka Kanonhsesne Condemns the Saint Regis Tribal Council

The following is a letter from the Men's Council of the Longhouse addressing the treasonous actions of the Saint Regis trustees toward the community of Ganienkeh.
Based upon the recent agenda of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, the topic of the Kanienkehaka Territory of Ganienkeh remains as pressing as ever to the state-recognized trustee “Chiefs”.
To be clear, there is nothing new about tribal discomfort with the free-thinking of the variety that gave birth to the Ganienkieh settlement(s).
In October of 2010, two letters were sent by the Tribal Council to the state of New York. The first letter was coyly written and only hinted at the Ganienkeh Territory. The second letter was more telling. An impressive dossier of testimony accompanies this letter, citing Big Apple articles and the investigative findings of the Tribal Gaming Commission, which serve to justify the immediate goal of tarring Ganienkeh.
At the November 2010 Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal meeting, a woman asked the meeting Chairman, Tribal Chief Mark Garrow, if he was jealous of the people of Ganienkeh, since what he did by signing the letter with fellow Tribal Chief Randy Hart (Chief Monica Jacobs abstained from signing either letter) showed his true feelings towards that group of the People of the Flint. Chief Garrow made a point to remark during the meeting that he represented the people who elected him.
It has been stated by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council that the action taken was not against Ganienkeh, but rather on behalf of the tribal membership, specifically to stem the flow of Tribal gaming revenue to the state of New York for failure to protect gaming compact exclusivity that was agreed upon as a stipulation by the state to allow the Tribe to operate the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino under a gaming compact.
Yet many in attendance at the November 2010 Tribal monthly meeting clearly stated that the Tribal Council did not consult with Tribal members before electing to take this deliberate action of notifying the state of Ganienkeh Territory gaming activities, that the action was both treasonous and “an act of war”, and that many People of the Flint were packed and ready to move out to defend Ganienkeh from state (and tribal) oppression.
Nothing is new here to those with memories of past Tribal Council actions pertaining to Ganienkeh. When Moss Lake, located near Utica, was settled as the “first” Ganienkeh, and this former Girl Scout campground was the point of negotiations between Ganienkeh spokespeople and representatives from the New York Governor’s office, a letter dated November 25, 1974 arrived in Albany from the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. Signed by Chiefs Leonard Garrow (father of present trustee Mark Garrow), Rudolph Hart (father of present trustee Randy Hart) and Charlie Terrance, the letter objected to the reclamation of the state-owned property and called for the assertion of state jurisdiction to remove the Ganienkeh settlement. There seems to be no hesitation to Tribal Councils of any era to call in their pay-masters when the sledding gets tough. Nor is anyone riding a white horse in that posse.
To many, Ganienkeh represents freedom. To others, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council represents an attempt to assert control. It may just be that the trustee eyes are bigger than their stomachs allow.
Signed, 12-09-2010
Men’s Council of the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne (People of the Longhouse)
Turtle Clan Representative – Sakoieta
Wolf Clan Representative - Rarahkwisere
Bear Clan Representative – Kanaretiio

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Not Another Post About The "Real" Meaning Of Thanksgiving

This is the time of the year when a litany of opinions, lectures and down right scoldings will be offered up about "Thanksgiving". If the Western civilization had to appropriate one of our festivals and rewrite history to kick off their holiday shopping season so be it. I am more concerned about what we do. I am not talking about turkey or spending a quarter of our salary the day after gorging ourselves. I am thinking more about our direction and commitment to securing our cultural and political distinction.

The last time our people came together after a period of conflict between us was when five regions of our people brought their 49 families together committing their titles with that of Tadadaho to create the Kaianerehkowa. The great peace enjoyed by the Great Path of Goodness was to be recited every year to all of our people in all our territories and would be recited at a great convention for all of our people every five years. We need to once again come to a unified understanding of what bound us together before the clash of the European culture would disrupt our people so. Religion, disease, war and the growth of the capitalist empire have left many of our people struggling with their sense of identity. Even "Indian" religions have clouded the waters to such an extent that we only look back to what a handful of generations have offered up as a definition of what it means to be Ohnkwe Ohnwe or Haudenosaunee.

It is time to look at the path worn by the millions of feet that walked this land before us. The Kaianerehkowa has not been properly examined or certainly followed in over 200 years. Generations of egotistical men, many of them carrying some of those 50 titles, have moved so far off that path that the generations that followed lost their way back. I have no use for examining the paths followed by generations of oppressed people, a path of survival. I would rather return to the path that advanced our people rather than the one used to desperately hang on to shadows of who we were. We need to relearn the Kainerehkowa and let it be a priority.

If our people can brandish the Hiawentha Belt on everything from flags to body art, if we can treat our Longhouses like churches, if we can gather to celebrate "treaty commemorations", if we can wear our "Indianess" on our sleeves; then why can't we learn the one thing that separated us and distinguished us from all other men. The Kaianerehkowa is not a gift from the "Creator". It is the path that honors Creation. It is not "like" anything that man has created. It is not a supernatural phenomenon but rather a natural one. In a world where power, authority and wealth was wrestled from the weak or ignorant to be placed with the privileged few, the Kaianerehkowa was the only model that proved liberty was not chaos and that authority and dominion over others was not required for order and peace. If we can adopt all of these false "traditions" that we claim to be a part of our "culture" then how about reclaiming the lost tradition of a yearly recital. Perhaps then the festivals our people celebrated will begin to have real meaning and a genuine return to a higher quality of life can begin.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Governor Cuomo? It has a familiar ring to it.

For many of us that have been putting up the resistance to New York State as they encroach on Native lands and liberties of Native people, we always look at these new governors with more questions than expectations. Will Andrew take advice from his dad on Native issues? And will his advice come from the Mario that showed skill and integrity in the handling of the Ganienkeh stand off or from the State's Chief Executive that was responsible for "Gallant Piper"? The senior Cuomo was the first governor to tackle the "problem" of Native retailers marketing their regulatory advantages. He took a State licensed wholesaler all the way to the Supreme Court to prove he had authority over him and laid the groundwork as he and future administrations who would attempt to choke off our supply or tax our wholesale purchases.
It turns out that our resistance convinced the tough talking Republican that replaced him to do a complete about-face on the subject. As it would turn out, George Pataki would prove to be the most diplomatic State executive we have faced and properly addressed the issue politically rather than through force or courts. It is worth noting that Governor Pataki paid no political cost for respecting Native sovereignty.
So now a second generation Governor takes the helm. This one faces challenges the others couldn't have dreamed of; anemic revenue from Wall Street and a billion dollars a week going out to Medicaid. Even the conservative estimates have New York facing a $10 billion deficit next year. The question is: will Cuomo the younger do as others have and use us as a distraction from his real issues or will he ignore the racist clamor from morons like US Congressman, Peter King and his new found Republican majority which will now put him as a chairman of the Homeland Security Committee? How close will this one push us to the brink of an all out conflict before he becomes another humbled governor.
Wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise to start out with one of these guys as a human being instead of so much of our energy going into forcing him to be one?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Seneca Nation Attorneys' Weak Showing in Court Shows Why We Shouldn't Be There

By failing to challenge the New York State's authority to interfere with Native commerce in their so-called fight against the State, Seneca Nation attorneys have left many, including the judge in the case, believing that the Seneca Nation has conceded its sovereignty to the State. At this point the entire legal fight has hung on the SNI fighting to keep State wholesalers in the Native tobacco business. Their argument is not that we cannot be compelled to collect tax for the State but rather the method the State is attempting to employ is too burdensome.
Now, I am one of those that believe it is wrong for us to wrap ourselves up in a bunch treaties to defend ourselves. Unlike the "Honor Indian Treaty" crowd, I reject the notion that our territories were created by them and that we are, likewise, defined by them. Our sovereignty is our birthright and was certainly never gifted to us through the words of swindling politicians. The few passages from these over lauded contracts of theft that refer to "free use and enjoyment" or lands that will never be claimed by the U.S. or even those that mention taxes specifically do not encompass the extent or limits of our rights and authority.
Having said that does not mean that we should be afraid to argue against the State's authority. In the SNI's briefs in Federal court, the Nation made clear "it is not advancing the argument in this litigation that its specific treaty rights exempt it and its members from the Supreme Court's generic rule that the State may tax such sales [cigarette] to non-Indians." But they not only shied away from "treaty rights", they failed to reject the State's authority at all. As such, Richard Arcara, the judge in the case, determined that the Nation was conceding this position and wrote in his ruling that "The Seneca Nation expressly acknowledges that, as a general principle, New York State has authority to require reservation retailers to collect excise taxes on sales to non-Indians." I'm not sure that the Seneca Nation has actually conceded this point but only challenging the manner in which the State forces us to collect tax and not even addressing whether they had the right to do it in the first place certainly suggests so.
The whole premise for a state to impose a "minimal burden" on tribes to collect taxes for the state is born out of a few cases heard in Federal Court in other states against Native people with views and circumstances different from ours. There are dozens of issues that make those cases inappropriate for use or justification for New York State, not to mention the general problem we have with anyone believing they can violate our sovereignty simply because a court let another state violate the people of another territory. Not one Wampum Belt needed to be dusted off for this fight. The courts, however, certainly could have seen fit on their own to cite treaties, that their forefathers wrote, to undo this mess. After all these "treaties" are their laws. The belts are ours.
All this points to the undeniable fact that if we allow these issues to be reduced to a matter of state or federal laws, legal issues, we have already conceded certain authority. These are political issues. This is not a question of who has authority over who, because we concede no authority to other controlling interests. That is the definition of sovereignty. In the instance that the freedom of one infringes on the freedom of another is where diplomacy steps in.
When we enter their system, we go in with the risk of losing. The legal wizards in this case that believed they could risk nothing if they just avoided certain issues certainly failed to prove their point. In fact they failed to prove any point except, possibly, mine.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Are you crazy?"

Cartoon by Jack Ahasteen

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Again

Yesterday a cloud blocked the sun
I’m hurting so bad inside its hard to explain
I could tell in the dr’s eyes when he walked in the door that things aren’t gonna be normal anymore
And somehow I always end up with a losing score
All I could think of is my wife and kids and how all I want is the best for them
I put my head down as my wife cried she is truly my best friend
I have to fight I can't let this pull me down
My emotions are mixed as I tread these tears so I don’t drown
To my wife the strongest woman I know
The love of my life she makes me whole
She’s there for me like the sun
And in the dark she’s the stars in the sky
With her I will never turn and run
I’m truly lucky to be her guy
Again we are called to fight this
Again cancer is in our life
Again the chemo bags will drip
Again I will feel sick
Again I will lose my taste
Again my hair will lose its place
Again I will be weak
Again my soul will seek
Again I will have to be away from my family
Again WE will fight
Again WE WILL WIN
Lesten James White-Pigeon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The LJWP Fund

Lesten White-Pigeon is Seneca from the Seneca Nation Territory of Cattaraugus. He is 29 years old with a wife, Jessica and two children; Lesten James Jr. age 4 and Julia Rose 17 months. He has been battling Osteosarcoma for more than a year. He lost his leg a year ago last summer but the cancer spread to his chest and lungs. He plans to enlist the help of M. D. Anderson, a specialized cancer hospital in Houston, Texas to join with the Roswell Cancer Institute in Buffalo that is now treating him. The fund raising effort is to both help the family as they enter the holiday season and to assist in the cost associated with out of town treatment. Make checks payable to Lesten White-Pigeon and send them to The LJWP Fund, PO Box 93, Versailles, NY 14168. Thanks for your support.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I must have missed something

When did this battle to defend our economies become a fight for the right to buy from New York State wholesalers? I thought the whole reason for shifting to Native brands was to strengthen our position. There doesn't seem to be any voices out there fighting for our right to ship Native products from Native wholesalers to Native retailers from territory to territory. All the "legal" challenges are to fight the State from depriving us of their licensed wholesalers. Are we suggesting that the only way we can buy and sell Native brands is through the State? Are we stupid? How did we create a situation where all these Native brands were developed and then box ourselves in so we can't distribute them to each other with out the State? And why isn't this issue being argued? The only mention of shipping Native products has been around shipping product only to the "tribal leaders" or a "tribally run enterprise". When the "recognized leader" of the Tuscaroras was asked recently by one "his" people to allow electricity to a warehouse that was built, he said he only allows power to residences. So are we supposed to fight for "leadership" to be the supply line for our economy when they wield this kind of power? This goes way beyond the regulation of commerce. This isn't the freedom that is the foundation of what it means to be Ohnkwe Ohnwe. This isn't what it means to be Haudenosaunee where the "chiefs" possess this kind of power. When the private sector of the Seneca Nation built this industry and agreed to allow a mechanism to give back to the community, I don't think they had in mind giving complete control of their supply line to the Nation. They wanted to give back not give in. But perhaps we are back where we were in '97 when many thought we couldn't win so the prevailing thoughts were around getting the best possible deal out of the State. I must have missed something because as I recall, we pushed back even as the the governor was inking deals with "tribal leaders" and proved there was no deal to be had. Did all the success we have had make us stronger or weaker? Clearly, I must have missed something.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Gathering to Support the Sovereignty of First Nations


On Tuesday, September 14, 2010 starting at 5:00 PM there will be a gathering along the New York State Thruway where it passes through the Seneca Nation Territory of Cattaraugus. The gathering site can be accessed at the Big Indian Smoke Shop and Fuel Station on Mile Strip Road in Cattaraugus. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to come and bring as many friends as possible. The gathering will be a family friendly event to support the People of the First Nations. Our non-native support is both appreciated and important. The gathering has the potential to not only show support for Native Sovereignty and Autonomy but to protest the over reaching of authority by the State and Federal governments into the lives of individuals. It is important that people realize that attempts to cause economic harm to Native economies are not just attacks based on race but on class. Big business and wealthy politicians are waging war against anyone they can marginalize; whether it is based on the color of our skin or the size of our wallets.

Join us to send a message to those that want to keep blaming us for their own incompetence. See some friends and make some new ones. Stand up and be recognized and find out who really will have your back when things get tough.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The 5 "Indian" Policies of the US

I did a show last week on those 5 policies. Thomas Jefferson, who is considered the most enlightened political philosopher of all US presidents, captures the intent and strategy of the US from its start in the paragraph below. Assimilation, Removal, Termination and Extermination are laid out in a single statement. His comments show his deceit and his utter lack of honor or integrity. Enlightened; my ass.
Jack Ahasteen captures the US concept of Self Determination in the cartoon below that.


"To promote this disposition to exchange lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands.... In this way our settlements will gradually circumscribe and approach the Indians, and they will in time either incorporate with us as citizens of the United States, or remove beyond the Mississippi. The former is certainly the termination of their history most happy for themselves; but, in the whole course of this, it is essential to cultivate their love. As to their fear, we presume that our strength and their weakness is now so visible that they must see we have only to shut our hand to crush them, and that all our liberalities to them proceed from motives of pure humanity only. Should any tribe be foolhardy enough to take up the hatchet at any time, the seizing the whole country of that tribe, and driving them across the Mississippi, as the only condition of peace, would be an example to others, and a furtherance of our final consolidation." - Thomas Jefferson.
Self Determination on a Chain

Cartoon by Jack Ahasteen

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We Don't Need Leadership; We Need Participation


I have had this title posted on the top of my blog for several months. It couldn't be a more appropriate expression now. Tomorrow the people will show themselves. In Tuscarora the people will continue what they started yesterday, standing out on the street making themselves seen and heard. In Cattaraugus the people will gather at the Big Indian and at Native Pride. There too the people will be seen and heard. Some will grab the microphone, I may myself, but don't for a minute think that anyone is any more important than anyone else. We may not always agree, and that is OK. We aren't soldiers all marching in step looking to some fearless leader. We are the People. Before we were Senecas and Mohawks we were "The People of the Mountains" and "The People of the Land of Flint". We were "The People of the Marshlands" and "The People of the Hills. We were "The People Where the Stones Stand" and we were "The People of the Cypress". We weren't 5 or 6 Nations nor were we 50 or 52 Chiefs. We were the People of the Longhouse. We need to stop looking for a savior, for the One with all the answers, for a leader. We need to step up and get involved. I have another favorite saying: "The best way to prevent the abuse of authority is to not give it; the second best way is to take it back". This isn't necessarily a slap at tribal government, I'm talking about the State, but if the shoe happens to fit; wear it. At times such as these we have three choices: we can do nothing, we can expect others to fight for us or we can all do our share. Showing up for a rally or a demonstration isn't exactly hard work and no one is really expecting conflict, at least not tomorrow. Certainly no one will be putting their life on the line. Stand up and be accounted for. See some friends and make some new ones. No one needs to lead a charge.

We don't need leadership; we need participation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Provocation as the Deadline for the State's Interference in Native Business Nears

This sign hangs on a front lawn of a residence on the Territory of the Tonawanda Senecas. Last week two New York State Troopers Pulled up to the sign, got out of their car, pulled their weapons and posed for each other to take pictures of themselves with the sign behind them. They packed up and sped off when they were approached by residents. Real brave, guys! The property owner called the Trooper barracks where the Major assured her he would look into it and deal with the officers appropriately. He also suggested that they keep this between them so as to not make too much of it. A couple of nights later as some women were enjoying a quiet Tonawanda night when a New York State Trooper car sped by the same residence with engine racing and gravel flying as they cruised down Bloomingdale Road.
The rural nature of Tonawanda alone make a State Trooper presence unnecessary. There are only three reasons to go to Tonawanda; you live there, you have friends there or you shop there. State officials do not live there, they have no friends there and their business is not welcome. The sign could not be clearer.
The only thing as clear as the sign is the intent of some of these cowboys to participate in the State's on-going provocation of Native people. Invariably as tensions rise intelligence falls. You see and hear it in the words of prominent political figures like Mike Bloomberg suggesting the brandishing of shotguns to show who's boss or comments from the State governor acknowledging the potential for violence and even death but quoting for the newspapers, "There will be quite an uprising and protest to this but I am going to maintain this policy." And now, almost like answering the call to Bloomberg's call to "cowboy up" against the Indians, certain Troopers are willing to show their ignorance.
The best way for both the Native people, who will be sure to respond to the State's aggression, and the State Police, who will be used as the State's pawns, to ensure their own safety would be for them to form a somewhat unholy alliance where both sides agree to make as big, as spectacular and as expensive, while entirely peaceful, a demonstration of the State's futile efforts as possible. Everyone with their Warrior shirts and flags; flex your muscle and show your strength and resolve while you boys in the blue cars; bring entirely too many of yourselves to our reservation borders, collect your overtime and "hazard" pay, spend every dime of your State paid per diems and let's let the fools in Albany wallow in their stupidity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I Finally Got the Return Call, But They Won't Put It in Writing

I've mentioned previously on one of my comments that I called the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance to inquire on their "Indian Commerce" policies. Three weeks after my initial call I received a call back from the department's Office of Counsel. I asked what the State's policy is and would be after September 1st regarding Native to Native commerce and the sales and distribution of Native brands of tobacco products from territory to territory. The caller made it crystal clear that the State intends to stop any shipments of product that leave a reservation regardless of whether the product was produced or manufactured by Native people and regardless if the transaction is in the commission of trade between Native people on Native lands. When pressed where the State feels it has the right to interfere with Native to Native trade the caller suggested that there was case law that supported their position. I reminded her that the case law she refers to was specifically based on the premise that the tobacco sold by the Native retailers in Montana and Washington at the time had no value added to products by the Native people. Clearly this was no longer the case now that 70 - 80% of the product sold by Native retailers are Native brands and clearly a sustainable business can now exist entirely off those brands. The caller then suggested that the State would only consider value having been added if was done in the community that it was sold in. In other words; Native people could not manufacture a product and sell it to Native people from another Native territory without the State's regulation. When I continued to pressed her on the notion that the State would even stop, and indeed did so last week, a Seneca wholesaler from transporting a Native product from the Seneca Territory of Cattaraugus to the Seneca Territory of Allegany, she backed off some saying that the State would stop shipments going from one Nation to another. She said she couldn't comment on last week's seizure and speculated on various reasons that could have been in play.
The bottom line is that the State is so emboldened by new legislation and case law from places that are far from the territories and people of the Haudenosaunee (geographically and politically) that they are actually saying they will prohibit Native to Native commerce that doesn't comply with State law. I couldn't get the Office of Counsel to provide a written policy statement saying such because they don't want to use language that in any way addresses Native commerce distinct from State commerce. As far as the State is concerned our trade is their business.
We obviously cannot stand for this. We also cannot allow Native to Native commerce be reduced to a situation where only the tribes are allowed to conduct commerce under a concept of Nation to Nation commerce. This will be the ultimate sell out by tribal leadership and will make them complicit in criminalizing the private sector economies of our territories; the few that are left. Native people challenging the State's authority in front of white men under black robes is only slightly better than white men under white hoods. The laws these men live and judge by are as racist and outdated as the Klan. A system of laws that allows hundreds of distinct sovereign societies to be lumped together so that precedent can be established upon the weakest and imposed on those where no such ruling could be made on its own merits is no system at all. It is a sham.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Submission from an Anonymous Reader

Judge Arcara’s ruling is in. The glimmer of hope is distinguished. It really should come as no surprise that once again, and for hundreds of years, the Native American Indian has not be given a favorable decision by the white man’s court.
As if to add insult to injury, yet again, bumbling Bloomberg is suggesting that State officials need to put on cowboy hats and use shotguns this time, when asked about the possible violence which may come to pass after this ruling. This could be likened to the “show of the rifle” and to the usually peaceful native, this is a great violation of the universal Indian code of conduct. Bloomberg has shown himself to be an untrustworthy, dishonest adversary.
Have we really come no farther than the 1800’s when the court of New York was heard to say, “ Let us forget once and forever the word 'Indian', and all that it signifies"?
Are we to hear again, the words of general Sherman when he was quoted as saying, “ the only good Indian is a dead Indian”?
Or even the words of President Teddy Roosevelt who would not go as far as to repeat the above, but said, “ I don’t go as far as to think that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, but I believe nine out of ten are and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely".
This USA has done nothing but rob these people since we set foot in the Americas and it continues everyday. The white people wanted the Natives to take care of themselves but, not too good. They never wanted them to do too well. The State of New York has their hands out ready for the casino earnings but that isn’t even enough they also want to heap State taxes on their tobacco. The natives didn’t create the mess this State and country are in but they are being asked to remedy the situation at the cost of their sovereign rights. Shame on the people of American, who cry, ”cultural diversity”, but would forsake the very founders of this land.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

New York State and the U.S. Federal Government Are Provoking Native Conflict

As politicians and news outlets paint a picture of potential violent conflicts with Native people it is important to put things in their proper perspective or at very least consider the Native one. Should you find yourself backed up on the New York State Thruway or any other major highway that cuts through a Native community or barraged with news reports of stand-offs or conflict between Native people and law enforcement, consider the events of the past year before judging the cause and ask yourself who do these State and federal politicians really think they are serving by creating this conflict.
Last year, in Mohawk Territory, U.S. Customs blocked vehicle access to a section of Akwesasne because Canadian Border Services abandoned their check point on the Mohawk’s Cornwall Island when they were denied permission to bring weapons into the Mohawk community. The river became the only means for residents of the island to access food, general supplies and basic services. Kids were forced onto the river just to go to school. This year the U.S. Coast Guard rammed a boat carrying two young men in an attempt to force them to report their travel from the island to the south shore of the river. Both boys were injured; one of the permanently disabled. Shipments of raw tobacco have been unlawfully seized enroute to Native manufacturers in Akwesasne and the U.S Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms claims to be bringing indictments down on cigarette manufacturers there for operating without a U.S. license.
In Seneca Territory, remote sellers of tobacco products have been under attack by federal law makers who under charges that the Native retailers have been putting cigarettes in the hands of children, robbing money from state coffers and promoting terrorism passed legislation that has begun wiping out as many as 3000 jobs and has already cut the Seneca Nation’s revenue from their retailers to 40% of what it was prior to the legislation. Last week the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance seized a truck carrying Native product shipped by a Native wholesaler from one Seneca territory to Native retailers in another Seneca territory. The State, emboldened by this new federal legislation now believes it can interfere with Native to Native trade even as it proposes shutting off its State licensed wholesalers from supplying Native retailers. On September 1st the State intends to wipe out the remaining Native tobacco trade that has thrived for 30 years and has been the foundation of the economies of every community of the Six Nations.
Last month the U.S. State Department hosted consultations with Native people in Washington D.C. to gather comments and concerns regarding the United State’s position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The current position has been a total rejection of the Declaration since 2007 and we are told that position is now being reconsidered. At issue is the legally binding nature of such an international agreement and the conflict presented by the U.S. “domestication” of Native issues and conflicts. Domestication is a fancy word for forcing Native people into U.S. courts and under U.S. authority. A week after the State Department put on their show for the “Indigenous Peoples” in Washington they attempted to “domesticate” the Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team by refusing to recognize their Haudenosaunee passports. Great Britain was hosting the FIL World Lacrosse Championship Tournament and refused to issue travel visas to the descendants of the game’s founders unless they carried a recognized passport that could ensure their re-entry to the United States.
Domestication was the same rationale that developed the concept of “Kill the Indian; save the man”. It was also the means used to throw out the Cayuga land claim and, just last week, the Oneida claim as well. While the U.S. Courts have acknowledged the lands were taken unlawfully, the “domestic” processes determined that in both cases too much time elapsed for the Nations to be entitled to a settlement. This from the country that spends billions in support of the 2000 year old land claim and the autonomy of Israel.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seized Cigarettes Will Be Given Back to Seneca Retailer



Posted: Wednesday, 11 August 2010 6:29PM

Rachel Kingston Reporting
rkingston@entercom.com
Buffalo, NY (WBEN/AP) -- New York State is going to return a truck full of cigarettes that was seized by taxing agents on Monday to the Seneca retailer to whom it belongs.State Taxation and Finance Spokesman Brad Maione said Wednesday that Monday's stop and seizure was not illegal, but officials who've reviewed of the facts of the case have nontheless chosen to give the truck and its contents back to Aaron Pierce. Maione would not elaborate on what specifically led tax officials to change their minds.Agents who made the seizure on Monday said that they did so because the cigarette cartons weren't stamped properly. But the Senecas question that explanation, since taxation of Native American tobacco products is currently not permitted under New York State law.Pierce contends that the seizure is an act of retaliation. He and 140 other Seneca businesses have filed lawsuits against a new federal law, known as the PACT Act. It bans the shipment of cigarettes in the mail. The Senecas are currently trying to have it declared unconstitutional.At the time of the seizure, the cigarettes were being shipped from one Seneca reservation to another.Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder said Wednesday the tribe is demanding an explanation from Governor Paterson."Why did the state make a move on something that's been going on for a number of years?" Snyder asked. "Why is that process starting in August of this year? [Does it pertain] to the legislation that was passed for September 1 of this year? Or is it something to do with the federal case that's going on, over the PACT Act? I have no idea, at this point."Snyder was referring to the measure that state lawmakers approved earlier this summer, that would authorize the state to collect sales taxes on Seneca tobacco products that are sold to non-Indians. That new law is scheduled to take effect on September 1.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's Talk Native... with John Kane


I'm moving into radio. Starting August 10th at 11:00am I will be hosting a one hour show on WECK 1230 AM. The show will air live from 11:00 till noon every Tuesday morning. I will have the shows available here for replay and they will be available on http://www.weck1230.com/ via web stream and podcast.
Prerecorded and produced 30 second ad slots are available during the broadcast as well as live promos.
Feel free to recommend topics here and comment about shows.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Couple Weeks of Declarations; Celebrated, Reconsidered and Forced

So a couple of days after Americans celebrated their Declaration of Independence from tyranny I travelled to Washington D.C. to observe and participate in the U.S. State Department's "Smart Partnership Dialogue" events. The events are to assist the State Department in their review of the U.S. position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that position being a complete rejection of the entire document back in 2007.


The first day, July 7th, was the "Tribal Consultation", described as the "government-to-government tribal consultations between U.S. government agencies and federally recognized tribes". The State Department, which actually hosted the meeting at their facility, rolled out a few of its big guns for the event (don't get excited, Hillary was no where close) and rustled up some White House Indians, some Interior Department underlings and various other government agency staffers. The event was well attended; in fact the room was full to capacity. Sitting to the immediate left of the U.S. panel was the Haudenosaunee representatives; I single them out specifically because of the events that would unfold later in the week. A good portion of the discussion focused around religious rights, sacred sites, federal recognition and the general poverty of Indian Country. No one mentioned economic development, trade, passports or any issues related to Native sovereignty as it relates to the international community or the United Nations.

The second day was an opportunity for the NGO's to be heard; that's U.N. speak for non government organizations. In other words, the federally recognized tribal leaders had their day, now it was time for the people. This event was held at the Smithsonian's Museum of the Native Americans on the Capitol Mall. I went to listen for the Seneca Free Trade Association but to speak as a free thinking Kanienkehaka. And speak I did.

I began by expressing my cynicism for the whole process, especially with the agency's constant reference to the domestication of indigenous/tribal issues and the foreboding of potential conflicts should our issues no longer be held as domestic issues. I suggested that we take a look at how well we have fared with their domestication of us. I also expressed skepticism on the integrity and conscience of the international community as well. I actually brought up many of their domestic laws and policies including the passport issue as well as their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative IDs that attempt to force our declaration of U.S. or Canadian citizenship. I brought up the citizenship act of 1924, the Homestead Act, the Dawes Act, income tax, draft registration for military service, BIA recognition, the conflict between state's rights and federal authority, jurisdiction, land loss, land use, land title and land claims. I brought up federal Indian law and the practice of establishing precedence against weaker tribes to apply force of law against others. I brought up trade and commerce as well as the role the United States plays in preventing our private sector development. I spoke of the tobacco trade and couldn't help but mention that tobacco was prominently displayed in full growth as part of the landscaping for the museum (and not traditional Indian tobacco but full broad leaf commercial grade tobacco). I brought up the overtures made by the President and the photo ops and of course the White House Indians. I brought up the PACT Act and called out Jodie Gillette in front of the whole auditorium for not giving us the time of day to discuss the damage that her boss signed into law. What I didn't know was what was about to transpire over the next couple of days.







A few days after the State Department finished courting us in D.C., the Iroquois National lacrosse team was held hostage by them in New York City. Bound for England to play in the World Lacrosse Championship Tournament in Manchester, the Haudenosaunee passport carriers ran into a brick wall. The United Kingdom refused to issue travel visas for the team without assurances from the State Department that the travellers would be allowed back home on their Haudenosaunee passports. In the eleventh hour Hillary Clinton intervened and ordered that the department issue a "one time" waiver to allow the use of the substandard travel documents for reentry into the U.S.. Feeling as if they were off the hook without really giving into the obstinate Indians, the State Department stepped out of the role as villain. The problem was that the Brits weren't satisfied. The U.S. had shoved the hi-tech travel documents down every one's throats in the name of 9-11 and Hillary's discretionary use of "one time" waivers was not cutting it for them, so now they insisted that the athletes either produce U.S. or Canadian passports, in other words fully recognized passports, to receive their visas.
So a little more than a week after Americans celebrated their independence from their tyrant, the very people who lost more in and after the war that was fought for that independence were kicked around like illegal immigrants. The media had a frenzy with the issue but stayed cautiously close to the main story line: Iroquois Nationals banned from competition for insisting on using their own passports. There was never any connection made to the discussion over the U.N. Declaration. The Haudenosaunee representatives never broached the subject in Washington and the entire coverage of the issue as it developed never strayed beyond the lacrosse players. Only I mentioned the travel document issue in this "Smart Partnership Dialogue". If I had any idea these guys were heading to Europe I would have jumped all over the issue rather than just mentioning it.
Our people face travel restrictions every day. With half of our Haudenosaunee communities north of the imaginary line and half south of it, as well as one Mohawk community straddling it, we can't even visit family without a fight over travel documents. Even without their international borders to cross, goods are seized even as we travel from one community to another in the commission of legal trade. As you read this, a prominent Seneca is on trial because his product was purchased by a Native retailer in the state of Washington without reporting the transaction to the state. Two Mohawk boys were permanently disabled when a U.S. Coast Guard vessel rammed their boat as a result of their refusal to yield to them as they travelled across the river from one part of Akwesasne to another. U.S. and Canadian officials blocked bridge access to part of Akwesasne simply because the people refused to allow Canadian Border Service Agents to be armed on Mohawk land. Vehicles that drive from one part of Akwesasne to another that don't first drive into the city of Cornwall to report are seized if they later enter Canada. Invitations to many countries are declined simply because of travel restrictions for those that refuse to declare themselves as U.S. or Canadian citizens and this is the real issue.
Although the mainstream media has danced around the subject, the main conflict over all the travel documents is centered on the insistence that we declare citizenship to a nation that is not our own. This is not just assimilation, it is by definition; genocide. The third act that constitutes genocide according to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

So where does this leave reconsideration of the U.N. Declaration? What is the point of open discussions if there is no transparency to what happens off stage? My skepticism of the international community could not have been more justified when one of the nations(Great Britain), that has already signed, attempts to force our people to declare subjugation to the only two countries(the US and Canada) on the planet that have refused to become signatory nations. Much of the debate about this U.N. document has been over its potential legal ramifications. We know from past experiences that the first time this is used as a legal document against the U.S. someone will challenge it and have the federal courts declare it unconstitutional as a legally binding agreement. Man-made law will not solve our issues; U.S., U.N. nor any other. Fair and honest diplomacy, that can withstand international scrutiny, is the only solution and it is long overdue, I do declare.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Iroquois lacrosse team misses England flight in passport hold up


New York (CNN) -- The 4 p.m. Delta flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport to London came and went on Tuesday -- but without the members of the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team on board.
The team was hoping to make the flight in anticipation of this week's World Lacrosse Championships in Manchester, England.
They were supposed to depart for England on Sunday with about 43 people, including family members.
But the British Consulate told the team Friday that it would not be given visas unless the U.S. State Department could confirm in a letter that the Nationals would be allowed back into the United States following the tournament's end, according to a press release issued by the team's board of directors.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Monday that the hold-up appears to come from new security measures applied to passports -- and whether the Iroquois-issued passports meet new rules applied to travel.
Crowley said he could not confirm whether or not the passports meet new travel requirements. He referred that question to the Department of Homeland Security.
Matt Chandler, a spokesman for that department, said the agency was working to help resolve the matter with government entities including the State Department, but would not comment further.
At Tuesday's briefing, Crowley elaborated on why the team was denied the letter.
"There are specific criteria as to the circumstances under which you can provide those letters. This situation does not meet that criteria. We stand by to help them gain the kind of documents that will allow their travel to the United Kingdom," he told reporters .
"We are trying to see if there's a way to help them. The easiest way to accomplish what they want to accomplish is to get them a U.S. passport. We've been ready to do that for a number of days, and we stand ready to do that today," Crowley said.
But Dr. Percy Abrams, executive director of the Iroquois Nationals, said U.S. passports wouldn't even be accepted at the competition, where players have to produce a passport originating from the country they are representing -- the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
Also, Abrams said, it's a matter of principle.
"We have our principles and with that sovereignty goes the idea that our country has been accepted. We've been traveling on this for years," Abrams said during team practice Monday at Wagner College in New York.
"I think it should have been explained well ahead of time or someone should have been advised that travel requirements had changed," Abrams said when asked about the update in travel security measures.
The people of the six-nation confederacy live in upstate New York. The Iroquois territory once covered most of the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
Monday afternoon, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson sent a letter to the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security on behalf of the Nationals.
He asked that the matter be reviewed immediately and also noted that the passports have been used to travel outside of the United States since 1977 without problems.
"As a governor of a state with a significant Native American population, I know many tribes and pueblos will watch carefully how these young competitors are treated by the administration. As a signator of the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights, which includes the freedom to travel and return, I believe we have an obligation to assure these young men's rights are protected," Richardson wrote.
Congressman Dan Maffei, who represents the 25th District of New York, has also pledged his support to the team.
Tanya Gonnella Frichner, legal adviser to the Nationals, said Maffei was expected to meet with the State Department Tuesday evening to continue to help resolve the matter.
"He has been one of the strongest advocates," Frichner said.
The last time the team traveled outside the country was in 2002, when the championship was held in Australia. The passports didn't pose a problem then, Abrams said. But Crowley acknowledged that that was before travel requirements changed.
On Monday, Nationals General Manager Ansley Jemison told CNN that preventing the team from playing in the championship would be a "worst-case scenario for the game of lacrosse."
"These guys are also heroes to a lot of the young children that we have in our communities, and I think that would be a very negative message for the U.S. government to send to our people," Jemison said.
"We don't have a lot of heroes, and it's tough for us to have a lot of heroes... These are the 'Michael Jordans' of the native communities. These are the guys that we hold on the pedestal. These are the guys we look up to," Jemison said.
Despite the missed flight, the players are staying optimistic.
Sid Smith, a defender for the team, said the players are continuing to work hard and stay focused.
"The boys have still got their spirits pretty high and I think the morale is pretty high right now," he said.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New York Jacks Up Cigarette Tax Another $16 and Plans a Tax (Attacks) Against Native Retailers on September 1st

Can we finally stop selling "Big Tobacco's" products? In New York State our tax advantage after July 1st will be almost $50 per carton (over $60 in NYC). There is enough Native produced tobacco product to stock our shelves and serve all comers to our territories. So what is the hang up? Native cigarettes already represents 80% of our sales and, all taxes aside, our own brands are as good or better than theirs and cheaper. Big Tobacco turned on us a long time ago yet, through Marlboro sales alone, most Native retailers have contributed more to Philip Morris' lobbying efforts than to the defense of their own businesses.
The New York State Legislature passed a measure that calls for tax collection on product intended for resale to non-natives to begin on September 1, 2010. However, the State knows that they can't tax our own product. All those cases they try to cite that gives them "authority"(including Attea) all go back to a case in the state of Washington where a major part of the government's argument was that cigarettes being sold had no value added to them by the Indians. Stopping us from selling product that we manufacture would be a whole other battle for the State to fight. The State is wrong for what it is doing as are the feds but we need to recognize how this all plays to our favor.
As Native people, we need to stop fighting each other or throwing each other into the line of fire and concentrate on our Native to Native commerce. If the State and feds want to block their businesses from doing business with us then we need to find solutions around them. They can't stop their citizens from visiting our lands and buying our goods. We need to provide more goods and services to both meet our own needs and to market to the surrounding population so the dollars that come in, stay within our communities longer. As the American economy continues to degrade, more people will be looking for means to save money. For those fortunate enough to be our neighbors, or at least be in driving range, savings on goods and services as well as jobs will always be available on our lands as long as we continue to push and market our advantages. We know which territories are committed to fighting for our commerce. We need to support each other in these territories and be prepared to back away from those that are not willing to defend Native to Native trade. Compliance with the State or even the Feds should not be a prerequisite for trade. Whether a solution is developed to keep our remote sellers in business or not, we need to continue to build and grow out our brick and mortar businesses and that includes retail, service, manufacturing and tourism.
An article from the July issue of Making A Visible Impact Magazine

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Declaration for the 4th of July

A Declaration of Sovereignty
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one People to define the political and historical relationship which has connected them with another, and to re-assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and Creation entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to make such a clarification.- We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all mankind are created equal, that they are endowed by Creation with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.-- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among People, deriving their just powers only from the Consent of the Governed,-- That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the Right and Obligation of the affected People to alter, abolish or separate from it, and to re-establish themselves, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments and Relationships long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all human experience has shown, that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while injustices are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing that which they have grown accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Course, evinces a design to reduce Human Beings to a mere resemblance of a proud People under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty to throw off such Governments, and to provide new measures for their security.- Such has been the patient sufferance of entire Generations of the People of the Six Nations; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter what has become of their Relationship to the New York State and United States Governments. The history of the Executives, Legislators and Judges of these Governments is a history of repeated injuries, usurpations and deceit, all having in direct object the unlawful occupation of Native lands and the Eradication of First Nations as Distinct, Autonomous Societies. To prove this, let the Facts be submitted to a candid World.- The Governments of New York State and the United States have combined together and with others to subject our People to a jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution(s) and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving assent to their acts of pretended legislation:--For developing national policies, including Extermination, Removal, Assimilation and Termination, with regard to Native People:-- For directly or indirectly allowing for the unlawful occupation of Native lands and the theft of Natural resources:-- For abrogating their own "Supreme Laws of the Land", altering on every occasion promises made by the United States regarding Territorial Boundaries, Land Use and Sovereignty:-- For attempting to Denationalize us by forcing U.S. Citizenship upon us:-- For abusing our children with a policy of "Kill the Indian, Save the man" through the use residential schools, forever altering generations:-- For cutting off trade with all parts of the World, including in and amongst our own Territories:-- For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:-- For forcing our People into their courts and there by depriving us of a trial by a jury of our peers:-- For imprisoning our People for conduct in our own Territories and claiming such conduct to be crimes against the United States:-- For ignoring our own power to legislate, and declaring themselves invested with the power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:-- For historically coercing, corrupting and deceiving our Representatives and in many cases appointing our Representatives for us:-- For keeping among us an unwarrantable police presence without the consent and against the will of our People:-- For designing specific military plans for the invasion of our Territories (ala Gallant Piper), including the requisition of body bags and ambulatory services:-- For developing the concept of “Federal Indian Law”, which applies case law from one Native Territory to another completely disregarding the distinct status of our Nations and the Relationships to, not only the United States, but the International Community in general:-- For reducing the obligations made in Treaties to welfare and arbitrary act of charity:-- For adopting policies that encourage Socialism in our Communities and discourage the private sector development of our economies:-- For developing self serving concepts including; Quasi-Sovereign, Domestic Dependent Nations, and Ward- Custodian Relationship, and then treating them as accepted and established law:-- For claiming that the U.S. Constitution vests Congress with plenary powers over the affairs of our Sovereign Nations and that our own Sovereign Powers are subject to the plenary powers of Congress:-- For destroying the natural beauty and integrity of our homelands, contaminating the air, water and soil; destroying the game and vegetation that existed in harmony since time immemorial. Representatives from New York State and the United States have mis-stated history, law and fact for the sole purpose of causing dissention and hostility among their People against our People. The formation of citizens groups calling for the abolishment of all U.S.- Indian Treaties, all Native Land Claims and recognition of our Sovereign Territories has begun. Tension between Native and non-native People in some communities is at a modern day high. By and large the Good People of New York State and the United States have remained our friends. Together with People from around the World they support our efforts and continue to recognize our Sovereignty. Our presence alone, however, is not a strong enough reminder of our history. We must, therefore, promulgate our position, our standing, our autonomy and, in the oldest of ways, offer to clean the eyes of those who cannot see injustice, clean the ears of those who cannot hear the appeals of others and clear the throats of those who cannot speak the truth.
We, therefore, the People of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca Nations, appealing to the People of the Earth, Declare, that we are of right and, indeed, have always been a Sovereign People. We reject any assumption of subjugation, including any misconception regarding our Citizenship. We are and always have been the People that constitute our respective Nations and claim no other. We define our Sovereignty as the Right or Power to have Independent Authority not affiliated with other controlling entities. We affirm our Relationship to the United States and to the rest of the World as defined in the “Two Row Wampum” and disclaim and/or dissolve any political connection to anyone that supports behavior contrary to Mutual Respect, Non-interference and not conducive to a Peaceful and Prosperous journey on the River of Life.

July 4, 2010
This appears as the centerfold for the July issue of Making A Visible Impact Magazine

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Seneca Warriors mean it when they say: "Never Again!"

The following is an anonymous email forward well worth passing on.

We are a Nation in a crisis. The Seneca Nation is in the crosshairs of the US and NY State again.

Over the past 10 years, the State of New York and Phillip Morris have worked hard to pass a bill that will attack and erode the sovereignty of the Seneca Nation. Over the course of this decade our Councillors and Presidents have insisted that the passage of such legislation will be a violation of our Treaties, deny the Seneca Nation a legitimate revenue source, and devastate our economy. In spite of these efforts, the US has passed the PACT Act, and now there is no doubt that the enforcement of it is a Treaty violation, criminalizes our people, will eliminate funds needed for legitimate Seneca programs, and eliminate over 60% of commerce occurring on our territories.

The passage and implementation of the PACT Act has targeted the Seneca Nation economy, and the passage of this Act has been at the behest of the State of New York. Just as New York pressured all credit card companies and carriers like UPS, FED EX, and DHL from freely interacting with our Nation's economy, now New York State is preparing to implement a plan that will force every Seneca to pay NY State taxes. A report issued on June 10th, 2010 states clearly that the Treaties between the US and Seneca do not preclude the State of New York from collecting taxes on everything but "land".

New York State will implement this plan on September 1st, and they are planning on the implementation of the PACT Act as a measure that will destabilize our Nation--weakening our ability to use resources to defend our economy and preserve our culture. Clearly, our deadliest political enemy is our neighbor: New York State.

These facts are clearly known, so the question is what can we do about it? One option is to do nothing and simply allow the US and NY State to slowly eliminate and terminate our Nation. This option would show that the Seneca Nation agrees with NY State politicians that Senecas are "terrorists", "smugglers", "criminals", and that our economic activities are "illegitimate." More importantly, doing nothing would in essence show our acceptance of the colonial control of our destiny and our submission to the law of perpetual genocide. The PACT Act is not unique; the PACT Act is only the most recent example of colonial control by the US and NY State. The passage of this act now joins other historical events like the construction of Kinzua, I-90, I-86, Salamanca Lease, Thomas Indian School, forced relocation, compromised Treaties, land theft, Sullivan's Campaign, and the countless other colonial measures that sought to eliminate our "free use and enjoyment" of our lands.

Another option is to resist and refuse to accept NY State politicians' determining our future. Didn't we tell the US and the State of New York, "Never Again" after they flooded 1/3rd of our Allegany Territory? Isn't this why we protested NY State's invasion of our lands in 1992 and 1997. This was a time when peaceful protests on our lands were met with several thousand NY State shock troopers. Less than 20 years ago, the defense of our territories by Seneca Warriors effectively resisted the two month long NY State Trooper occupation of I-90 and I-86.

As in 1992 and 1997, the Seneca Nation in resisting the PACT Act has used every method available and like other times in our history, these efforts have fallen short. And like times in our history, the defense of the Seneca people and Nation rests in the abilities, fearlessness and strong will of Seneca Warriors to stand up and resist.

Resisting New York State has been an activity that has consumed our resources since the 1600's.

Resisting New York State this time mandates that we also resist the passage of a New York inspired law from the US. Make no mistake, NY State takes pride in proclaiming that they are behind the PACT Act.

While the United States Postal Service stance is they are simply "following orders" of the US Congress. The US Congress and US leaders have insisted that this law does not impede on the sovereignty of the Seneca Nation. Yet how do these US leaders explain away that the "main sponsor" of the PACT Act is from New York State: Anthony Weiner - US Congressman from NY? They cannot. We need to prove to the world that these people are anti-Indian. This act seeks to profile Seneca people as automatic criminals. The legislators that passed this act have positioned themselves as our enemies with their anti-Indian legislation. When the US Postal Service follows this act they will abide by anti-Indian laws and racially monitor our economic activities.

What do we do to stop New York State? We develop a plan of action to address this issue internationally, nationally, and locally.

We need to make this an international issue. Now is the time to insist that our voices are heard over the din of New York State's greed. The world is on our side, and international media will pay attention. We can get their attention by proving the PACT Act as an attempt by NYS to blockade our economy and this economic blockade must be exposed for what it is: economic terrorism. The perpetrators of these actions will be exposed as anti-Indian, and making this case will be easy in a time when Arizona is suppressing brown people in the South West.

On the national level, any plan must include the formation of a Seneca Nation postal service and the complete elimination of all US postal activities on our Territories--especially all addresses that insist on the colonial occupation of NY. This means that your address will be known as the Cattaragus Territory, SN or Allegany Territory, SN. This will send a clear and precise message to the US and NY State that the Seneca Nation refuses to remain under the passive or active control of the US and NY.

Locally, we need organized and visible protests that include the people of Western New York, during which time we need speeches, signs, and of course the local, regional, national, and international press. Our claims need to make it clear that the PACT Act is imperialism, colonialism, genocide, and the actions of NY State over the past 5 years is tantamount to an economic embargo. These protests need to be on our Territories and we need to say under no uncertain terms will we turn our people into criminals, nor will we allow outside colonial agencies to use evidence gained through racial profiling to come onto our territories to arrest and criminalize Seneca people.

Seneca Warriors are here to defend this Nation during times when America's colonial experiment enters the realm of outright oppression. Now is the time.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The New Making A Visible Impact Magazine Is Out


Look for it in stores starting tomorrow. Check out articles from Jed Morey and Lance Morgan. Also check out the MAVI Racing article. MAVI Magazine is free so support it by purchasing ad space. Help us spead our message.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making A Visible Impact Magazine's Next "Signed, Mavi"

Dear Mr. Obama,

I'm not going to start listing the long list of promises and assurances that you made during your campaign and at the beginning of your presidency. I am also not going to go through the litany of treaties that most Native people feel compelled to quote from as if they define our existence. I will not rehash the most recent travesty that you and the Congress are trying to inflict on our people either.

I will tell you; we get it. Not all of us, but enough of us to matter. The Crow might be falling all over themselves to adopt you and give you an "Indian" name and there are plenty of "tribal" officials that would love to get a photo op with you or get invited to some White House function. But those of us that have been in the trenches fighting for our sovereignty and autonomy, we have always understood. We have a name for you too. Rahnatakaias: it means "Town Destroyer". It is not so much a name for Barack Obama as it is for the office you hold. Your actions are what make it personal. We understood from the start that the men who would hold your office would be praised by many and always be promoted as men of fine character even as they acted out the most cowardice and inhumane policies against our people. George Washington ordered what you and your contemporaries would call an act of terrorism his instructions to General John Sullivan regarding the Seneca people:
I would recommend,...parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.
But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

Washington was the first to earn the title, but you all do your part to earn the description. Jackson's "Trail of Tears", Lincoln's Homestead Act and execution of 38 Lakota prisoners (the largest mass execution in US history) as well as Kennedy's flooding of Seneca land with the Kinzua dam are just a few examples that rarely get much attention from folks like you. But we remember. So we get it.

You certainly are not the first to make overtures to Native leaders only to continue on with your belief that you and your Congress have legitimate authority to legislate over us. In 200 years you have broken many Native people and destroyed many Native communities. You have bought and paid for tribal leaders to sellout their people from coast to coast. But know this; the People of the Haudenosaunee are not beaten or bought.

Legislating against us does little to change those of us that understand our sovereignty. Criminalizing us does not make us go away. Feel free to turn off the rhetoric any time. It just makes you look foolish in the long run. Just keep doing what the 43 before you have always done. There is no reason to lie to our faces or on your taped addresses. You do not work for us. Congress does not represent us. Just because the Senate declared us citizens in 1924, doesn't make it so. As I said, we get it.

Signed,
Mavi

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tribal Leaders React to Boat Crash

This article is as it appeared in the Plattsburgh Press Republican
Published April 17, 2010 01:26 am - Tribal leaders react to Monday's boat crash in Akwesasne waters, saying Coast Guard crashed into civilian Hydro yacht.
Tribe: No contraband involved in crash
Tribal leaders seek private investigation

By ANDREA VanVALKENBURG
Staff Writer - Plattsburgh Press Republican

MASSENA — Tribal leaders say there was no contraband found in the civilian boat that was struck Monday by a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.Coast Guard operations have been suspended in the international and tribal waters as the investigation into the boat crash continues.
TRIBAL WATERS
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne said few facts about the crash have been released, but it appears the civilian Hydro yacht, operated by two Akwesasne residents, was in Akwesasne waters of the St. Lawrence River when a chase apparently began. In a news release, tribal officials said it's still unclear what members of the Cornwall Regional Task Force were attempting to stop the men for, but that "it has been confirmed that the two Akwesasne boaters were not in possession of any form of contraband."
CRASH IN U.S. WATERS
As the Akwesasne boaters were pursued in U.S. waters, Mohawk officials say, it was "struck by one of the police vessels in pursuit." That vessel has been identified as a Coast Guard ship. The two Akwesasne men suffered serious injuries in the wreck and were airlifted to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, where they are still being treated. Sources say one of the men was paralyzed in the crash. Four Coast Guard members suffered minor injuries. Authorities have refused to identify those involved in the accident, despite repeated requests from the Press-Republican and other news agencies.
TRUST TESTED
Citing the nature of the incident, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne is pushing for an independent investigation. The incident is currently being probed by a number of U.S. and Canadian agencies, along with tribal authorities. Grand Chief Michael K. Mitchell said, "the Akwesasne community looks to the outside police agencies to help keep our lands and waters safe from criminals who would use our geographical location to their benefit, and incidents such as the one that occurred this past Monday test that trust we place in them. The outside police agencies are entrusted to protect our lands and waterways from illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons, human cargo and various other contraband, and it is incumbent upon these outside agencies to conduct themselves in a respectful and honorable manner within the territory of Akwesasne."
INDEPENDENT PROBE
Tribal leaders say the crash has far-reaching implications to the relationship between the Akwesasne community and outside police agencies. They fear profiling by other agencies could result in a rise in similar incidents. "The real criminals in this matter are those who put the international border through the middle of our community," Mitchell said. "And we, as a community, continue to suffer from that act in our daily lives. Outside police agencies should take all safety precautions, and follow proper procedures and the law. We need to be satisfied that these standards and precautions were followed in Monday's incident. The only way to do this is through an independent investigation." Coast Guard officials have not released any further information about their investigation, citing its ongoing nature.
INFORMATION SOUGHT
Anyone with information about the crash is being asked to contact the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police at 358-9200 or Akwesasne Mohawk Police at (613) 575-2340
Or better yet post the info in the comment section so the Mohawk People can deal with it themselves.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Two Injured in Assault on the River

The following is a Press Release from the Men's Council of the Kaianerehkowa Longhouse in Akwesasne.
Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne
For Immediate Release
April 13, 2010

Ahkwesasne - Last evening, in the final daylight hours, members of the Men's Council for the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne were called to the scene of an incident where a couple of young Mohawk men were attacked on Mohawk waters. Upon the questioning of eye-witnesses and conversations with the victims, the following was determined: The act of aggression was committed by a group effort consisting of RCMP, the US Coast Guard and the US Border Patrol using the vessels under their control. It is presently unclear which agency actually rammed the small craft operated by the young men, but the RCMP and Coast Guard immediately fled the scene after the assault, leaving the Border Patrol to fish the injured men out of the river and see to their injuries. Both men are hospitalized with back injuries with one of them currently suffering paralysis. Neither has been charged but the damaged boat which lost its motor in the collision has been confiscated. The US Border Patrol denied committing the assault on the young men.

The Men's Council of the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne condemn this act of aggression and demand that those responsible for this criminal act be held accountable. The parties involved in this action have no right to interfere with our use of our water ways and, in fact, have from time to time forced our people to use the river as our only means to access areas of our community.

The US and Canada use Our land to connect their people and commercial interests and then attempt to dictate to Our people on what terms we can access Our communities. The constant high level of tension between the Kanienkehaka and our oppressive neighbors has now been ratcheted up once more. This Council will consult with the People and take steps to aggressively confront this action and any future acts of violence against our people.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Two Row Wampum Is About Respect


The Two Row Wampum has been mischaracterized too long. We are told by too many that the Two Row started between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch, that it is a trade agreement and that it specifically references the canoe and the ship. While it has been used over and over again in many circumstances and explained in many ways, the reality is that the Two Row is simply about respect. In the words of Kaneseraga; "Our first and most sacred covenant is with Nature and our Mother, the Earth." The Two Row starts here. When we say the Ohenton Karihwatehkwen or the "words before all else" we do this to convey our respect to all of creation. We start with the People and cover every relationship we have; from the most distant stars in the sky to the stone, soil and water at our feet.

The Two Row with its magnificently simple design depicts two rows of purple wampum set against a background of white. The two rows are equal and run side by side with each other. We represent one of those rows. The other is for any and all that we share a mutual respect. Any one of those mentioned in the Ohenton Karihwatehkwen can be placed on that second row. When we say those words before all else, we describe our connection to creation and all that it has produced. The key is respecting our relations as equals and respecting that while we all have our own path; we are still connected.

When the Two Row is described as two vessels on the river of life, it is the river that connects us. The distinction of the separate and equal rows show a respect for the distinct paths our vessels travel. It is said that everything that is ours must stay in our canoe while everything that is theirs must stay in their ship. This concept of possession was foreign to our ancestors. What they did understand was responsibility and the consequences of losing our way. It was told to me that much of the problems of today is that too many want the "things" or benefits of every path or vessel they see with the responsibility of none. When we disrupt the paths of others simply for the taking or when our path is disrupted, there are consequences.

The Two Row started with us. We used it to show respect to all that accept the responsibility of maintaining their path. Nature has always done this unequivocally. This concept was put in place between the people of the Haudenosaunee and shared with people of other cultures. The Two Row Wampum was also put in place with other Onkwe Ohnwe as a path for peace without coming under the Kaianerehkowa and the protection of the Tree of Peace. When helpless strangers reached our shores and expressed a desire for peace the Two Row was offered and accepted, first by the Dutch and followed by the French, British and ultimately by their offspring that would come to be known as Americans.

The Two Row Wampum began as covenant of respect that we shared with and offered to all that we knew. When the concept was offered to a foreign people with no common history, language or culture, it would become the first and only treaty ever offered by our people to the white man. Perhaps we should have stuck with offering the Two Row to what and who we knew. How could our ancestors know these strangers to our shores would be incapable of genuinely living with respect for others?