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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Monday, December 12, 2011

St. Regis Tribal Police Arrest Mohawk Longhouse Representative for Grand Larceny Over Land Reclamation


In a bazaar scene last week, Roger Jock, Bear Clan Representative for the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne Men's council was grabbed up by the St. Regis Tribal Police, lied to about why they stopped him and where they were bringing him and ultimately faced an indictment by a Franklin County grand jury for grand larceny over Mohawk land in the center of the Mohawk community of Akwesasne that he is accused of stealing from a white man who claims to have a county deed to it.

In January of 2009, the Kanienkehaka Kannonhsesne (Mohawk Longhouse) released a statement regarding the reclamation of a parcel of land on what has been referred to as the "Hogansburg Triangle". See http://letstalknativepride.blogspot.com/2009/02/land-claims-mohawk-style.html and the Potsdam/Massena newspaper coverage http://www.mpcourier.com/article/20111210/DCO01/312109977.

This past week's arrest of Roger Kaneratiio Jock suggests that the St.Regis Tribal Council is stepping up its efforts to assert control over the Mohawk people and in particular the Kanienkehaka Kaianerehkowa Kanonhsesne or Mohawk Longhouse.

Kaneratiio was released from custody on Friday with no bail after spending the night in jail. He joined me on "Let's Talk Native..." last night, 12/11/11. Check out the show and offer comments here or on Facebook.

This story will continue to be addressed here on Native Pride and on my radio show, Sunday nights. The over zealousness of this local yokel district attorney may only be surpassed by the treacherous involvement of the St. Regis council.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 28, 2011

ARTVOICE 11/23/11



5 Questions with…

John Kane: Radio Host, Native Activist

The son of an ironworker from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, John Kane grew up off reservation in a small town in Eastern New York, near the Vermont state line. After college, he married an Oneida woman and they raised their children in Seneca territory in Western New York. He became a member of the First Nations Dialogue Team in the mid to late 1990s, which is where he began speaking in public, writing letters to editors, and doing interviews on the battle with New York State over taxation. He currently hosts Let’s Talk Native…with John Kane on WWKB 1520AM, Sundays, 9-10pm.

Describe your show, in a nutshell.

“Let’s Talk Native…with John Kane” is a free-form show intended to be a conversation on a given Native issue or issues each week. Whether or not guests or callers join me, what a listener will hear is a full conversation on a subject—no sound bites or sensational one-liners, just an honest and thoughtful conversation. It is not the intent for the on-air conversation to be the last word on a subject but rather a thought-provoking start to a conversation that, hopefully, continues after each one-hour show.

Why do you suppose so little effort is made by local media to cover local Native affairs?

The media has become too much a part of the entertainment business. Unless Native issues can be sensational—tire fires, police confrontations, or political unrest that can compare to state or national scandals—our issues simply won’t buy ratings.

Overwhelmingly non-Natives think of the Native role in the regional economy to comprise cigarettes, gas, and gambling. What do you make of that?

It’s true but not necessarily by our choosing. While we have chosen certain businesses where our regulatory advantages have helped us to overcome or relatively remote locations, it was never our intent to get pigeon-holed into those businesses. On the Native Nations level, gaming has been shoved down our throats. If states had their way there would be no private sector development in “Indian Country,” only Nation-run gaming enterprises that have the state and federal regulators firmly embedded in those operations. On the private sector side, most businesses have become so consumed with fighting off the state that there is little money or will left for diversification. The question must be asked that if we can’t defend our place in legal trades like gas and tobacco, in what businesses would we be safe?

What opportunities do you see for economic development between Native and non-Native peoples? For cooperative growth?

I believe the answer to the current economic crises that are sweeping the globe is to turn away from the global economies controlled by the few where one region of the planet is exploited for their labor, resources, or lack of environmental concern to market to consumer-driven societies in another region. An emphasis on local economies where a dollar circulates several more times before it leaves the region makes sense on almost every level. Native sovereignty creates clean slates for economic development free from much of the bureaucracy that stifles business development. Native lands could be incubators for everything from the retailing of certain products to the manufacturing and tech transfers from the solid research institutions of the region. As businesses gain a sure footing within the safe havens of the economic development zones that Native lands could represent, they could expand throughout the rest of the region with a track record and business model already in play. Too much of the regional brain trust leaves the region for development elsewhere only to have the products of brain trust marketed back to the region. The same could be said for the resources of the region.

What’s the best show you’ve ever had?

If I had to recommend a listener to check out one show to convince them to check out more, I’d have to say listen to the October 16, 2011 show with Robert Batson or the October 23, 2011 show with Pam Palmater. Bob was the “Indian expert” for the Carey, [Mario] Cuomo, and Pataki administrations. The level of agreement we shared on the issues relating to our never-ending battles with the state is amazing. Pam is a Mi’kmaq and an author (Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity), university professor, and lawyer from the North. She was a great guest as we discussed the parallels with our battles with the US and Canada.



Read more:
http://artvoice.com/issues/v10n47/five_questions#ixzz1f3x56oYm

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Tale of Two Tribal Conflicts

Two controversies involving tribal government have made the non-native or mainstream media recently. As the host of the only Native radio show in Western New York I made a decision to cover only one of them. While the Seneca Nation with 7000 strong and billion dollar businesses dominated TV, radio and the newspapers I chose to shine a light on the 700 people on the Tuscarora territory.

Here is why:

It is plenty sensational to scrutinize the Seneca situation. After all, what could be more intriguing than the first Harvard educated president of the Seneca Nation getting fired from controlling one of the largest economic engines of the area. The problem for me is that it is an internal issue that needs no outside interference. The Senecas are quite capable of handling these kinds of internal disputes and when we live in an era where news is no longer reported but rather forcefully opined on. I question the value or relevance of those opinions.

The story surrounding the controversies on Tuscarora, on the other hand, is all about outside influence. The people have no say on who their "leaders" are. The "federally recognized leadership" is borne out of a combination of the "boy's club" claiming to be the "Confederacy" and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA says if you are going to keep your heathen ways and stick to a "traditional" form of government, then we are putting our blinders on and don't want to know nothing about how it is supposed to work; just tell us who the "leaders" are. Of course, that cannot be determined by Tuscaroras, only the Grand Council of the Haudenosaunee can confirm such a distinction. So ask Oren Lyons, from Onondaga to get Audrey Shenandoah, the secretary of the Haudenosaunee from Onondaga, to write a letter and get Sid Hill, the Tadodaho from Onondaga, to sign it; and there you have it, Tuscarora "leadership". Now give these guys and their lawyer $100 million from the New York Power Authority and the power to dictate every aspect of Tuscarora life from who can have electricity, or can use the health clinic, or can get an ID card and you see the reason why this corruption needs to be exposed to everyone. Most of the problems in Tuscarora are not internal but stem from outside influence, outside authority and outside money.

Catch this week's "Let's Talk Native... with John Kane" as I welcome Mike Hudson from the Niagara Falls Reporter into the studio. There is no TV, no major news broadcaster and no major newspaper covering this story; only this small newspaper from Niagara Falls. Don't get me wrong, Hudson and the Niagara Falls Reporter are making waves in spite of the story being ignored by the rest of the mainstream media. Mike's stories are roaming the internet on sites like www.indianz.com and other Native news networks and this week he joins "Let's Talk Native...".

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Another Trip to NYC to Host FVIR


I want to thank Tiokasin Ghosthorse for inviting me to guest host his show again. First Voices Indigenous Radio is a true treasure and represents the best of the diversity and out-of-the-box programming that the legendary WBAI was famous for. It is always an honor and a pleasure to bring my own brand of Native talk to NYC and tap into Tiokasin's loyal listeners.
While Tiokasin took the story of the American Genocide to Europe, I got a chance to view the "Occupy Wall Street" scene for myself and offer my perspective on the show. I encourage you to listen to the show (http://archive.wbai.org/files/mp3/wbai_111103_090057fvoices.mp3) and I won't restate my comments here but be assured my thoughts are a little outside the conventional opinions. FVIR again gave me the opportunity to bring not just some of the general issues of the Haudenosaunee to the New York airwaves but even some of the specific issues associated with the corruption of the Tuscarora "leadership" (and I use that term sarcastically).

The trip also afforded me the chance to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Manhattan. I had a great chance to speak with some of their personnel, share some thoughts and perhaps open a door or two. If their interest in having me come back down to speak develops further it would be the first time a perspective, shared by many but rarely expressed, would get such a forum. Stay tuned.

I am genuinely honored that Tiokasin trusts me to cover for him. I consider shows like FVIR and my own LTN endangered species. No one in the mainstream media is falling over themselves to give Native voices a platform. Maintaining a niche in public radio as Tiokasin has done is difficult with so much competition and the rivalry associated diverse ethnic programming. My challenges are different. I pay for airtime on commercial radio. Soliciting support to cover costs and carving out the time slot is my main challenge. I believe that guys like myself and Tiokasin are doing important work and it is great when our paths cross. As always, I look forward to joining with Tiokasin and First Voices again. My next challenge is to get him as a guest on my show.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Month in on My New Digs

"Let's Talk Native..." made the move to WWKB 1520AM on 9/11. After a month at this powerful 50,000 watt station I am still amazed at its signal strength. The fact that LTN can be heard from Seneca Territory to Mohawk Territory, without a satellite or the internet, just puts me in awe. Perhaps this says something about "old ways". Of course by posting my shows on my blog or WNYMedia.net or Rezkast.com they can be heard anywhere and anytime and that's a good thing. But an AM signal carrying the words of Native people and Native issues, live, just through air, to be picked up by any traveler on the road on any Sunday night in a car or on a simple hand held radio is almost magical. It is like burning tobacco and watching your words take flight. Not to the powers of Creation but to anyone who cares enough to receive them.

It is a privilege to provide a forum for the discussions I have each week and I am grateful, not just to those that listen in, but to those that participate. I thank Matt and Dan for sitting in studio with me each week and I thank the callers and those that post comments here on my blog. Responses from as far away as Baltimore and the Poconos as well as the the local calls from right here at the Western Door of the Haudenosaunee add to the show. They suggest to me that the conversations we have on the show will continue at home, at work and, of course, on the web.

Another appearance on "The Capitol Pressroom" with Susan Arbetter in Albany last month and my up-coming trip to NYC, in the midst of the "Occupy Wall Street" movement to guest host once again for Tiokasin Ghosthorse on "First Voices Indigenous Radio" give me even more opportunity to encourage conversation. I just did a 3 hour interview for Buffalo Spree Magazine for an article due out in January. I can't help but feel the appetite for a Native message growing. I don't think it is a fascination with "our ways". Perhaps it's hope.

I have said all along that we have more to offer than gas, gaming and cigarettes. We may need to remove a little dust from who we really are and dig into that medicine pouch. I know we need to do it for us but, like I said, I can't help feel like there are those in the non-native community that hope we have more to offer as well. The beauty in doing "Let's Talk Native..." is that I get to interact with people who are quick to show their support for our issues. My guests find an on air experience that is as comfortable as a coffee shop conversation. Even those that have called in to take issue with the views I express have ended the conversation with gratitude and a little enlightenment.

Treaties, statutes and court rulings are put in their place on my show. Words on paper will never trump the spoken word as far as I'm concerned. When we hear educators refer to our "oral traditions", it is often made to sound primitive but I once wrote that for all the writing and reading we will ever do, it would teach us nothing if we couldn't discuss it.

It is not my intent for "Let's Talk Native..." to be entertainment, although I hope it is entertaining. My intent is to educate and to demonstrate a different way to address differences; an old way. As a Native person, it is not my vote I fight for or my citizenship or my passport or my Bill of Rights; it is just my voice. My voice can be heard every day: not once a year or every two years; not just when subpoenaed or interviewed, but every day. The spoken word is still the most effective way to communicate. Conversation, not legislation and adjudication, is the way to resolve conflict or satisfy concerns.

Just past a year on air and a month in my new digs and I am more convince now than when I started the need for conversations has never been greater. Join me on Sunday nights or look for me anytime on line and Let's Talk Native....

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Let's Talk Native...with John Kane" Makes a Big Move


On 9/11, after a full day of remembrances, prayers, dedications and commemorations, "Let's Talk Native..." will take to the airwaves on a new frequency. LTN will debut on WWKB 1520AM at 9 pm on Sunday, September 11th. KB1520 is a legendary station from the AM rock and roll days. It's 50,000 watt signal has been picked up on US Naval vessels in the Atlantic and even in several European countries. Clearly, a Native radio show broadcasting from the Western Door of the Haudenosaunee will blast a signal well beyond the Eastern Door on the power of KB1520. No longer will this unique show be limited to a modest broadcast area in the Buffalo market. "Let's Talk Native..." will still be posted on Native Pride and Rezkast as well as several other web sites, but now every Native and non-native community east of Seneca Territory will be reached with the live broadcast.

I want to thank WECK, the Buffalo Breeze, for giving me a home for my first year. I wish the good folks there the best of luck with their shift to a music format and much success.

I will continue to make the rounds on radio from New York to Albany and back here to Western New York. And as always, those appearances will get posted here on Native Pride. LTN will keep conversations on Native issues flowing. As a live, free form show, call-ins are encouraged. Callers who agree or disagree with the views expressed will be engaged intelligently and with respect. The show will continue to host guests, both in studio and remotely. New guests and a few returning friends will join me. Current events that affect Native people and our communities, as well as a little history and culture will be shared weekly.

Join the "Let's Talk Native...with John Kane" Facebook group. Post comments and suggestion for the show or anything that adds to our much needed conversations.

Be a part of the Newest Voice on "A New Voice. A New Choice" KB 1520AM.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Join me for my last show in New York

Next Thursday, 8/25/11, will be my last guest hosting appearance on "First Voices Indigenous Radio" while I filled in for Tiokasin Ghosthorse for the month. FVIR airs on WBAI FM 99.5 in New York City as well as over twenty stations throughout the US and Canada. Tiokasin invited me to his show and allowed me to bring a little of my own Western New York show, "Let's Talk Native...", to the Big City. It has been an honor and a privilege to host a show I have admired for years; a show that encouraged me to start my own.

I hope the faithful FVIR listeners liked what I brought in Tiokasin's absence and I also hope those listeners I brought to FVIR will continue to listen to the show and support the good work Tiokasin does.

Please check out the FVIR web site at http://www.firstvoicesindigenousradio.org/ and pay particular attention to the request for funds to help Tiokasin to travel to Auschwitz, Poland to participate in an event to raise awareness of the holocaust of indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere.

Join me for one last show next Thursday morning at 9am. The show airs live on FM 99.5 in the NYC, streams live everywhere at http://www.wbai.org/ and can be heard in archives on both sites listed here and will be linked here on Native Pride as well.

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Let's Talk Native..." Completes its First Year on Air

I missed the opportunity to address a landmark for my entrance into radio. Last week was the first anniversary of "Let's Talk Native...with John Kane". My show is paid programming so it has and does depend on support from individuals to keep it going. I have to thank all those that have assisted in keeping our issues out in the public as well as to thank those who promote the show and encourage others to tune in. I have a list at the bottom of those I wish to acknowledge.
The show has been successful on many levels. While it is hard to gauge the size of the listening audience and the impact on them, every once in awhile a comment comes back, either from a caller or through Facebook or even email, that expresses some fulfillment of the intent of the show. Of course LTN has also created the opportunity to make appearances on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter and allowed me to use those trips to Albany to push for support from state legislators who probably would not have done so without my urging. Jed Morey used an appearance on LTN to write an excellent column not only addressing the racist reporting of John Stossel from FOX News but he took it beyond a rebuttal. See it at http://jedmorey.com/2011/american-genocide/.
Although LTN does not have guests every week, the guests that have appeared have all been great and it has been my privilege to promote their work or provide a platform for their message.
As I write this, I am half way through fulfilling an invitation to guest host "First Voices Indigenous Radio" which airs out of WBAI FM99.5 in New York City and is carried on over twenty stations throughout the US and Canada. For the month of August I have continued doing my LTN shows Tuesday mornings from 9 till 10 on WECK 1230AM in Buffalo and then I travel to NYC to guest host FVIR on Thursday mornings from 9 till 10. The guest hosting in New York and travel for appearances are also made possible only by support from individuals.
I truly hope I can get "Let's Talk Native..." and Native talk radio in general to a point where it is self sustaining, but in the mean time the show is completely dependent on contributions and advertisers. Anyone interested in supporting the show can email me at jmkane1220@aol.com.

I truly thank the following for helping complete a year of good work.
The Tonawanda Merchants Association
Neville Spring
Ross and Holly John
Joe Harter
Totem Pole Smoke Shop
49 Express
Terri John
Sally Snow and Will Parry
Dan Post Jr. and Sr.
Suzanne Smith, Alyse Pierce Gunther and Aaron Pierce
Maxine Jimerson
Tom Moll
Eric White
Sue Sprague
Susie Cornell

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Don't Seize Native Brands", New York State Tax Department

Although the State of New York refuses to publicly state as much, the tax department has instructed its agents to leave Native brands of tobacco products alone. Over a dozen scenarios described in an inter-department memo states "DON'T SEIZE" on all but one. Only if "Non Native Americans, Middle Eastern and Foreign Nationals running a business in NYS and who are found selling untaxed native American made cigarettes at retail outlets such as bodegas etc. Seize the untaxed cigarettes whether they are premium or Native American brand.

It is interesting that it wasn't enough to reference "Non Native Americans", but they had to add "Middle Eastern and Foreign Nationals". I think they would have been covered by "Non Native American". Is this to single them out or to suggest a connection between the sale of Native brands and Jihadists?

New York Senators George Maziarz and Tim Kennedy still have not gotten a response from the tax department asking for exactly what this memo calls out so are stae representatives and the public to assume this is the response? Who knows. It certainly does not appear the governor's call to change the way things are done in Albany has gone into effect yet. The state is still dysfunctional. When two state senators can't get answers to a relatively simple request of the tax department that clearly have an answer to, something is clearly still broke.

Here is the content of the letter that Mr. Maziarz and Kennedy sent to the state's tax commissioner:

May 16, 2011

New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox

Building 9, State Campus

Albany NY 12227

Dear Commissioner Mattox:

We write in today in reference to the regulations that have been issued for the collection of New York State Sales Tax on Native territories for sales of tobacco products made to individuals who are not Native Americans. In reading these regulations, it is clear that the issue of the sale of Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products, which are produced on Native territories, are not addressed.

A call to your office yielded the response that this is a “gray area”. We respectfully disagree. There is currently no process in place to stamp Native cigarettes in order to effectuate sales tax collection, as can and is done with so called premium brands. It is our view that Native Brand cigarettes, which are produced and sold on lands owned by Native Nations, constitutes commerce that is essentially Native to Native, and therefore cannot be regulated or taxed by the State of New York. This issue is completely separate and apart from the Departments and the Courts contention that sales tax can and should be collected for the sales of premium brands to non-Native individuals, even when such sales are made on Native territories.

It is our view that the State should not pursue an effort to collect taxes on Native Brands because such an effort would be contrary to the sovereign rights of the Native American Nations, and would be a severe blow to the Native retail economy.

Since the regulations issued in the wake of the recent court ruling are silent on this issue, we request that you provide clarification to us as soon as possible and in writing. It is very important that all of the citizens of the State of New York and their elected representatives know what the intention of your Department is with regard to the collection of State taxes on Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products.

We look forward to your timely reply and toward working with you to resolve this important issue.

Sincerely

Senator George Maziarz, 62nd Senate District Senator Tim Kennedy, 58th Senate District

Clearly a timely response has not been forth coming. In fact, thus far, no response other than the memo at the top has come.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A New Time Slot for "Let's Talk Native..."

As I close in on a complete year for the radio show I launched on August 10th of last year, my time slot has been upgraded to the tail end of the drive time. LTN will air live on Tuesday mornings from 9am to 10am. The drive time is considered prime time for radio and I hope to continue to connect with listeners stuck in their slow morning commute. Perhaps listening in on a good conversation will make the drive seem shorter.
The year has been consumed by a lot of conversation over the State's continuing attempts to gain revenue from Native sales and will likely continue to be so. The issue has lead me to three appearances on The Capitol Pressroom, including a debate with Jim Calvin of the New York Association of Convenience Stores and an appearance with New York Senator George Maziarz. Senator Maziarz also appeared with me on my show as well.
In August, as I enter my second year as the only Native radio show in Western New York, I will also be hosting the only Native radio show in the New York City Metropolitan area. My good friend Tiokasin Ghosthorse, who produces and hosts "First Voices Indigenous Radio" on WBAI FM 99.5 in Manhattan, asked me to host his show while he returns home to South Dakota for ceremonies and visits with friends and family. I look forward to the four shows in New York and hope to spread our message close to the homes of some of our biggest political detractors.
So note the new time for "Let's Talk Native..." and look for my appearances on "First Voices Indigenous Radio" all next month. As always, LTN shows will be posted here on Native Pride. If you don't have the opportunity to catch FVIR streaming live on www.wbai.org you will be able to catch them here on Native Pride as well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm Commuting to New York City in August

One of the guys who got me interested in doing radio is my friend Tiokasin Ghosthorse. Tiokasin is a man of many talents, not the least of which is being a musician. But I came to know him as the host of First Voices Indigenous Radio, which airs out of WBAI FM 99.5 in New York City. Over the years Tiokasin has turned to me as a resource for news affecting the people of the Six Nations as well as a guest to talk about history and culture, specifically on his Thanksgiving specials. His show airs on Thursday mornings live from 9 till 10 but is carried by about 20 other stations on various days and times throughout the U.S. and Canada. The shows can be streamed live from http://www.wbai.org/ and can be listened to out of archive there or on http://www.firstvoicesindigenousradio.org/.

A couple of weeks ago Tiokasin asked if I would guest host for his show in August while he goes home to South Dakota to do ceremonies and to connect with his family and community. So needless to say, I'll be hosting First Voices Indigenous Radio for the four Thursdays of August. I want to thank Tiokasin for asking me to fill in and bring a little of Let's Talk Native... to the Big Apple and I also want to thank the supporters of LTN who are helping me to be able to do a show in Buffalo on Tuesday and a show in New York on Thursday. I made the trip last week and appeared on Thursday's show. It was the the first time I was an in-studio guest and it allowed the chance to meet the WBAI personnel and find my way around. I want to thank Ross John Enterprises and Pierce Trading for assisting me with the trip.

Much of the political will against Native people is based in the New York metropolitan area so this is an opportunity to take it to them. My appearances on The Capitol Pressroom have allowed me to take it to them where they work, FVIR and WBAI will let me take to where they live. I'll post the shows on Native Pride so be sure and check them out.

For the month of August, the Native voice on Buffalo radio will also be the Native voice on New York radio.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Inside the Catsimatidis Cabal

By Jed Morey in Indian Issues on http://jedmorey.com/


John Kane is an Indian educator and advocate in upstate New York, who broadcasts a show on WECK-AM in Buffalo and blogs at http://www.letstalknativepride.blogspot.com/. As a Mohawk, married to an Oneida woman, living in Seneca territory, he likes to say he has half of the Iroquois Confederacy covered. Kane brings native issues to light on radio and online from the native perspective, and over the past couple of years we have become fast friends, trading stories and anecdotes related to tribal sovereignty issues that I frequently write about, but he has mastered—an impressive distinction given the complexities and differences of opinion inherent in these debates even among Indians.
During the Anthony Weiner fiasco, Kane reminded me of the disgraced congressman’s duplicitous role in shepherding the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) of 2009, of which he was the House sponsor, through Congress. In the middle of this ridiculous Twitter situation with Weiner, I spoke with Kane on his show about the scandalous nature of an act sold to the public as an anti-terrorism, tax-evasion punishment with positive public health consequences as Rep. Weiner argued on the House floor. In reality, the act itself was a protectionist economic tool crafted by, and for the benefit of, the American tobacco giants and convenience-store retailers seeking a way to curb the growth of native brand cigarettes. The passage of the PACT Act is a textbook example of money and influence in Washington where holier-than-thou legislators preach from atop an artificial moral high ground from a pulpit made of campaign cash.

The greased wheels of democracy behind this bill carry a clown car of strange bedfellows down roads that all lead back to billionaire John Catsimatidis, the ringmaster of this bizarre circus of influence. Catsimatidis is a high-profile figure in New York politics whose fortune is derived from the oil-refinery, grocery and convenience-store industries. Most recently it was the high society nuptials between his daughter, Andrea and Christopher Cox—grandson of Richard Nixon and son of New York GOP leader Ed Cox—that put the Catsimatidis name in the public eye. This is a merger of the highest social order in New York, renewing the notion that Catsimatidis will take a shot at becoming the next billionaire mayor of New York City, a hope that had been dashed when current Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to run for a third term. Add to the mix that presumptive candidate and power-grubbing sycophant Weiner is out of the picture, and the Catsimatidis for Mayor campaign will undoubtedly be in full swing.
Catsimatidis stands in stark physical contrast to the relatively soft-spoken and diminutive Bloomberg. A big man with bulbous features, he has a caricaturesque appearance. Apart from these visual differences the two men have much in common. They are self-made billionaires whose party affiliations are fluid and for whom the job of Gotham’s mayor is the brass ring. Less notably, but important where the tobacco industry is concerned, they are perfectly aligned in their unmitigated offensive against the native cigarette trade, and they were Anthony Weiner’s two top individual donors.
Bloomberg’s assault on the Indian cigarette trade has been well-publicized, but it’s Catsimatidis who truly keeps the fire stoked. For example, half of the sponsors of the PACT Act have been recipients of Catsimatidis’ largesse over the past several years. Since the 1990s he has spread around nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions under his name or his direct family members. He even dumped campaign cash into the coffers of Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who, during the cycles he received money, produced a congressional committee report titled “Tobacco and Terror,” which attempted to establish a link between the native cigarette trade and Hezbollah. It was a marginal and laughable report until Rep. Weiner matter-of-factly referred to the report (produced by his political nemesis) as gospel while arguing for the PACT Act on the House floor. From that point, the fate of native cigarette traders was effectively sealed. The New York and Washington, D.C. tobacco cabal, bought and paid for by Catsimatidis, included provisions in the act that delivered a direct blow to the Seneca Nation in western New York, arguably the most successful tobacco entrepreneurs in the United States, and direct competitors to the chain of convenience stores and gas stations owned by none other than John Catsimatidis.
Ironically, but purposefully, the only winners from the PACT Act were the tobacco manufacturers and convenience store owners who essentially crafted the legislation and financed its passage. Big Tobacco reaffirmed its competitive economic advantage by squeezing off supply routes for native brands and Indian retailers, which in turn benefited convenience stores with multiple locations. The act had little to do with trafficking, public health or terrorism, and everything to do with asserting monopolistic influence over a growing native trade that was gaining market share.
Watching Weiner argue the bill crafted by his donors told me everything I needed to know about this guy long before he revealed his true sleazy nature. “An act that goes after cigarettes, tax evaders and terrorism? Slam dunk… Who gets hurt? Indians? Where do I sign?” This was probably the extent of the conversation that transpired between PACT Act sponsors like Anthony Weiner and sugar daddy Catsimatidis. When it came down to it, Weiner could be bought. That’s the name of the game, I suppose, and whoever takes his spot will likely be no different. After all, a Weiner by any other name is still a dick. (You didn’t think I would get through the whole piece without a penis pun, did you?)




Author: Jed Morey
Jed Morey is the publisher of the Long Island Press, an alternative weekly newspaper with a circulation of 85,000, and www.longislandpress.com, which welcomes more than 750,000 unique visitors every month. He serves on the boards of the Long Island chapter of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, as well as the President's Council of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island. Morey is also a proud founding member of the Keep It On Long Island (KIOLI) movement, an online community - www.kioli.org - dedicated to preserving the Long Island economy while providing environmental stewardship in the region. The Kioli founding members set aside 5% of membership investments to purchase shares of a local, organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, which then donates the equivalent shares to Island Harvest, a Long Island-based hunger relief organization. In addition to the contributions on this blog, Morey authors the award winning column for the Long Island Press entitled "Off The Reservation" and is a staunch advocate for Indian rights. Morey lives in Glen Cove with his wife, Eden White, and their two daughters.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Does the UNDRIP Recognize What Many of Us Don't?


I am in a constant debate with many Native people over where our Sovereignty and general "rights" come from. I grow frustrated with those that suggest that "treaties" grant us our sovereignty or our rights to and on our own land. I openly condemn the "treaties" that so many hold sacred. They were not pursued by us, written by us and they were rarely, if ever, properly ratified by us (or them for that matter). They do not define us or nor do they limit by their exclusion what our rights are (that is to say that if a "right" or "privelge" isn't spelled out in a treaty that it doesn't exist).
While I am not completely sold on the merits of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is amazing that every participating nation of the UN (with some holdback from the US and Canada) recognized the following:

Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,

Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States,

Note that the Declaration associates land rights and resources with "inherent rights" not "treaty rights". And that the Nations of the world specify rights "affirmed in treaties" not granted in them.
Our people have to understand these distinctions and stand with the rest of the people of the world in declaring what they already seem to know and should be so obvious to us.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The State Clears Another Hurdle to Cut Off Its Supply to Native Stores

I have to start off by clarifying certain misrepresented facts. Nothing the state is doing will force tax collection on sales of tobacco products on Native lands. The whole scheme is designed to stop New York State wholesalers from supplying unstamped and untaxed cigarettes to Native wholesalers and retailers. No law has been passed to prohibit our sales; stamp or no stamp. The state knows they cannot do this. There is also no law that prohibits a non-native person from making un-taxed purchases from our territories. The fact remains that, under NYS law, ANYONE(of legal age) can bring up to two cartons of cigarettes into the state from any where for use and consumption without NYS tax or its stamp applied or any liability for that tax and that includes purchases from Native retailers.


The new law, when and if it ever does come into effect, will serve only to put a few NYS licensed wholesalers out of business. The state will not only see no revenue from this but will actually lose money from a whole range of areas directly from its actions. The job loss is one direct cost but so will the loss in MSA payments from Big Tobacco as more consumers shift to Native brands from those that pay millions to the state. Native brands will go from representing 80% of the sales from Native retailers to 100%. Of course the occasional load of Marlboros and Newports will still make it to the shelves of Native retailers but they will come from other states that will receive those MSA payments. The state will also have to decide how much they are willing to spend on enforcement. We have seen the state spend as much as $23 million per month in state police alone over this issue in the past.


The other cost to all this is the political cost and the damage in the relationship between the state and Native people. These types of disputes also tend to polarize the public not just on the issue at hand but on racial issues in general. One only needs to read comments to the mainstream media coverage of the issue to see comments that cross well into racism.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I'm Making The Trip Back To Albany

I've been invited to be on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter again. Ms. Arbetter told me she has learned more about our battle with the state on my two appearances than she has learned in all her years of covering the issue with other guests. As such, she is having me back on Thursday, June 2nd. The show will be following a hearing on the 1st in Buffalo that may or may not clear the way for the New York State to prohibit its licensed wholesalers from selling unstamped/untaxed cigarettes to Native wholesalers and retailers on Native lands. This move will undoubtedly put several state licensed wholesalers out of business and cause Native retailers to shift from what is now between 80 to 90% of their sales to 100% being Native brands. The state will essentially be prohibiting their licensed wholesalers from carrying Native brands because they cannot bear the state's tax stamp so the distribution of those brands will return back to Native distributors and wholesalers. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance knows their weak legal arguments stop well short of allowing them to interfere with the Native to Native trade of a Native produced product. This will likely be the dominant theme of the conversation on The Capitol Pressroom.

Adding to the drama is the call from two state senators from both major parties for the tax department to put in writing their intentions regarding Native brands. Their phone calls to the taxation department got them a response from the department officials that this falls into a "gray area". The senators stated clearly in a letter to Thomas Mattox, the NYSDTF Commissioner that they not only didn't agree with that assessment but that it was unacceptable. They told the commissioner that the state had no authority to infringe on Native to Native commerce and that doing so would be harmful the Native people and the entire regions in which they live. The senators insisted that New Yorkers and their elected representatives had a right to to know what the department was up to and that their position should be put in writing so that their intentions would be clearly known.

The letter was dated May 16, 2011 and as yet the NYSDTF has failed to respond. It is amazing that a plan by the state that has literally been in the works since 1988 still leaves the state's tax officials stumped to answer such basic questions. Between a potential court ruling on June 1st and, perhaps, a response from the NYSDTF to some fairly adamant senators, Thursday's Capitol Pressroom should be a good one. The show is carried throughout the state on NPR stations so check your local listings for the airing times in your area.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Another Good Showing in Albany

My appearance on The Capitol Pressroom went well. Jim Calvin of the New York Association of Convenience Stores was pretty easy to put away in my debate. Of course, he was at a huge disadvantage. He only had the same old talking points that our opponents have been spewing for over twenty years. The only things that anyone heard to shine a light on the issue came from me. But beyond me correcting his exaggerated interpretations of court cases and calling out his twisted view of what a level playing field is, was another interesting conversation on the show. This one was between the shows host, Susan Arbetter and the New York State Budget Director, Robert Megna on the segment before debate with Calvin.


Susan Arbetter told Robert Megna that I claimed the state was intent on shutting down our tobacco retail businesses and that to do so they plan to outlaw Native brands and to actively stop the legal distribution of those brands. She asked, "Is this the case or not?" Mr. Megna's response was, "You know...I don't think so....I mean, I haven't heard that. We know that the Native Americans produce or have begun producing their own brands of cigarettes, but I think what we have said, the State of New York has said for many years, is that we want to collect the money paid on cigarettes that were not produced by the Native Americans that are being sold by the Native Americans to New Yorkers tax free. Um...it's as simple and straight forward as that. I think the Governor's office and the Tax Department have developed a rational plan for doing that which does not involve the State infringing on the territories of Native Americans but rather working through wholesalers and saying that if you are going to sell...,you know...um, manufactured cigarettes...That all cigarettes have to have a stamp on them to ensure that those that are being sold to New Yorkers, the tax has been paid and that an allocated amount will go to Native Americans for their...for their purposes that will be tax free. This has been our policy for a long time."


This was the first indication from the State that they realize the lines they would have to cross to prohibit Native brands. As I have said repeatedly, the State has only two choices under its current law when it comes to Native brands. They can't stamp them so they must either acknowledge, as they have in the past, that they have no authority to regulate Native brands sold on our land or they will have to fight us to to kill them. According to Mr. Megna, the State may be once again looking away.


Check the side bar of my blog or go to http://thecapitolpressroom.org/the-capitol-pressroom-for-may-11-2011/ to hear the State's Budget Director and my segment with Jim Calvin.

Monday, May 9, 2011

White Men In Black Robes Do It To Us Again

ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN WINS SECOND CIRCUIT CASE TO COLLECT TAXES FROM NON-TRIBAL MEMBERS ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS

News from Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 9, 2011
New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525https://alb-me3.oag.lawnet/owa/NYAG.PressOffice@ag.ny.gov/UrlBlockedError.aspx


ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN WINS SECOND CIRCUIT CASE TO COLLECT TAXES FROM NON-TRIBAL MEMBERS ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS

Court's Unanimous Decision Allows for the Collection of Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Tax Revenue

Schneiderman: Today’s Decision Respects Tribal Rights and at the Same Time Represents an Important Victory for the State to Collect Deserved Revenue and Protect Public Health

NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a unanimous decision upholding the authority of New York State to collect taxes on cigarette sales made on reservation land to non-Indian Tribe members. The Second Circuit recognized that New York’s law carefully balances the interests of Tribal sovereignty with the State’s legitimate interests in taxing all cigarette sales made to non-Tribal members. The State estimates that the decision will enable the State to collect approximately $500,000 per day in additional tax revenue.

"Today’s decision respects Tribal rights and at the same time represents an important victory for the State to collect deserved revenue and to protect public health," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "The decision closes an enormous tax-evasion loophole that was depriving New York of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. I'd also like to commend all of the attorneys in the Attorney General's office whose extraordinary efforts on this case helped us achieve the best outcome for New Yorkers."

In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law requiring the collection of cigarette taxes on cigarette sales to non-Tribal members. The law provided Indian Tribes with several options for collecting those taxes while ensuring that cigarette sales to qualified Tribal members would remain tax free. The law is important for protecting the public health of New Yorkers as well as raising hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during a time of economic hardship.

The law was intended to go into effect on September 1, 2010. However, in August 2010, several Indian Tribes sued the State in federal district court to enjoin enforcement of the new law. The Tribes asserted that the law violated their tribal sovereignty and caused them irreparable harm. Two federal trial courts stayed the enforcement of the law. The New York Attorney General’s Office filed an expedited appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Today's unanimous decision accepted the arguments made by Attorney General Schneiderman. The Second Circuit determined that under settled United States Supreme Court law, the Tribes have no likelihood of success on the merits. Accordingly, the Second Circuit vacated all orders staying enforcement of New York’s tax law.

Deputy Solicitor General Andrew D. Bing argued the case for the Attorney General's office. Special Counsel to the Solicitor General Alison Nathan and Assistant Solicitor General Steven C. Wu also handled the case, all under the supervision of Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood. The initial case was also handled by Assistant Attorneys General Robert Siegfried, David Roberts and Darren Longo.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

"The Sovereignty of Indian Reservations and Indian Tribes is Not Absolute"

This is the opinion of James Calvin of the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) who is clearly the foremost authority on Native sovereignty (NOT!). This statement was offered as a counter to my claim that New York State is lying to the public when they say they plan to tax reservation sales and that the true intent is to shut our convenience stores down. The exchange was produced on a segment of The Capitol Report with Susan Arbetter. http://video.wcny.org/video/1892617821



Here is Calvin's complete statement that appears on the show:


"The sovereignty of Indian reservations and Indian tribes is not absolute - That there are circumstances where...,for example, when a state is trying to collect taxes on cigarettes or other products from non-Indian customers on the reservation - The state is entitled to collect those taxes and it does not infringe on the sovereignty that the tribes have been granted."



OK, let's start with some basic definitions before I even address the ramblings of this idiot. Sovereignty by definition is the possession of supreme jurisdiction or power over a territory or region. It is the right to freedom, independence and autonomy from outside authority. It is not nor cannot be granted; it is simply recognized or not recognized. Any attempt to control the activities on Native land by outside elements represent a willful infringement on a sovereign people or an ignorant failure to recognize our sovereignty. Calvin first tries to suggest that Native sovereignty is not absolute and then tries to suggest that the state's attempt to tax sales on our land does not infringe on our sovereignty. I can only assume he meant to say that the state's right to tax sales occurring on our land is a "legal" infringement of our less-than-absolute sovereignty. Of course this is so untrue that even he could not bring himself to actually say it.



New York State may have the right to tax its own people when they bring certain products purchased from Native retailers back into the state for use and consumption in the state. They clearly claim to have that right regarding cigarettes and, as such, have a form, NYS Form CG-15, to be completed by anyone using cigarettes brought into the state without the state's excise tax paid (or state stamp affixed) provided over two cartons are brought in at a time. To rephrase that: New York may have the right to tax the use of cigarettes in the state that are purchased on our land but NOT the SALES or PURCHASE that occurs on our land. One more time; the use of the product brought into the state may be taxable; not the transaction that occurs on Native lands (or out-of-state for that matter). It is interesting that Calvin doesn't just claim that the state can tax New Yorkers but anyone who is "a non-Indian customer". This would indicate a race component into the argument that goes beyond a jurisdictional issue.



I hope that the fluff that this mouthpiece for an association that represents New York convenience store owners, most of whom don't even live in the state, does not cloud the point I was trying to make on Ms. Arbetter's show and that is that New York State is intent on shutting down the tobacco sales of Native wholesalers and retailers and to do so it plans to outlaw Native brands and to actively stop the legal distribution of those brands. Let's see you really question this claim, Mr. Calvin.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

American Genocide



By Jed Morey in Indian Issues on http://jedmorey.com/

Writing a column is sometimes an arduous process. When a thought is in the embryonic stage, yet deadlines require it to prematurely take shape on the page, it can be utterly frustrating. There are times, however, when the column gods smile upon you and organize your experiences in such a profound and unambiguous way that the act of writing is a denouement of sorts that reaffirms one’s faith in the process.

On Monday of this week I was reviewing materials related to New York’s cigarette taxation policy on Indian territories—a frequent topic of this column—in preparation for an interview with a friend upstate named John Kane, who discusses Indian issues on his weekly radio show in Buffalo. While I was organizing my notes, John sent me a message asking if I had seen a recent news report about welfare and Indians in America by John Stossel. I had not.

Full disclosure: I had no idea who John Stossel was prior to viewing this report. It didn’t take long, however, to arrive at the conclusion that this reprobate masquerading as a reporter is a modern-day sophist who obviously sold his soul to the devil a long, long time ago in return for fame, fortune and the worst ’70s porn moustache this side of Geraldo Rivera.

Last week, this veteran television “journalist” broadcast a segment titled “Freeloaders” on Roger Ailes’ ongoing anti-intellectual jihad known as Fox News. It’s a subject Stossel has “investigated” before. Only this time he directs his vitriol at American Indians, a group he refers to en masse in his introduction as “wards of our state.” Stossel then proceeds to churn out quite possibly the most one-sided, racist commentary on TV news since Dodgers’ executive Al Campanis told Ted Koppel in 1987 that black people don’t have “some of the necessities” to manage in baseball and lacked “the buoyancy” to be good swimmers.

Stossel’s report is packaged as an investigative news feature and passed off as real journalism despite the complete absence of veracity. Stossel prevaricates so often in attempting to prove that every Indian in America is poor, stupid and lazy that this piece almost feels like satire. Only it’s not. He blames outrageous government subsidies for poverty on Indian territories, not the fact that over four centuries, the Indians who weren’t extinguished and disposed of were herded into the remote, resource-poor areas of our nation and stripped of their land, rights, dignity, habitat, game and whatever else our government could steal.

But for Stossel, enough is enough. It’s high time Indians pick themselves up, dust themselves off and start making money without the assistance of the federal government or revenue from casino gaming. Declaring “Capitalist Indians achieve,” Stossel sets out to prove that the American dream is available for Indians too, if they would just stop being so poor, stupid and lazy. In fact, not only can they still be Indian, they can be rich. Like the Amish.

No, that wasn’t a joke. He actually asks a pro-native advocate during an interview, “How come the Amish got wealthy?” While his guest is attempting to recover from the idiocy of this question, he steps in with his own conclusion: “Maybe they weren’t relying on government rules and Indian trusts and lawyering that teaches Indians to be helpless.”

Every conclusion that Stossel arrives at is based upon absolute lies. He holds the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina out as the ultimate success story, insinuating that they are all thriving because they choose to ignore government subsidies and don’t let the United States control their land like every other tribe in America. He uses this example as the benchmark against which every Indian nation should be compared and ignores the fact that the Lumbee Indians exist in perhaps the strangest Indian purgatory with a status exactly unlike every other tribe in America.

First of all, there is no Lumbee reservation. Moreover, Lumbee is just a colloquial name given to an amalgam of Indian tribes who are federally “recognized” as having authentic Indian roots though hailing from a large and disparate geographic area. This condition is vastly different from being “federally recognized.” The distinction is of no moment to Stossel, who goes on to falsely claim that the U.S. government actually controls Indian reservations. Footage of poverty-stricken reservations out west provides the backdrop for venomous lies such as this: “Because the government owns most Indian property, individuals rarely build nice homes or businesses.”

I have neither the time nor the inclination to detail the copious ways in which Stossel lies through his cheesy moustache in this shameless “report.” I’ve wasted too much effort on this lowlife bastard already. Instead, I leave you with the perspective I gained from witnessing the perfect counterpoint to his dripping filth.

Tuesday night my wife and I attended an event at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County to hear Eli Rosenbaum speak. Rosenbaum, who hails from Westbury, is the director of human rights and special prosecutions for the U.S. Department of Justice and has the distinction of being the longest-serving prosecutor and investigator of Nazi criminals and other genocide perpetrators in history. His presentation was brilliant and captivating. But it was the courageous testimony of Eugenie Mukeshimana, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide who spoke before him, that broke the hearts of every person in attendance.

What struck me most as I sat down to pen this column, and what the column gods undoubtedly intended me to experience in this period, was not as obvious as you might think. The obvious parable is the dichotomy between Stossel’s blatant racism and transparent hatred and the purity of Rosenbaum’s work and the tragedy of Mukeshimana’s story. But it’s John Kane’s perspective that broke through to me, and perhaps saddened me the most.

No matter what I write here or how many dots are ever connected in people’s minds about life in Indian Country, there will never come a time when the majority of Americans recognize the genocide hidden in plain sight: the American holocaust. This is how Indians like John Kane refer to it, and casually so, because for them it is living history, an ever-present reality. But it isn’t spoken of or acknowledged in white circles. There is no one for Eli Rosenbaum to prosecute. There is no Indian Mukeshimana who can testify to the atrocities.

As Americans we view ourselves as liberators, and in many cases throughout history, we have been indeed. We go so far as to blame ourselves for not intervening in places such as Rwanda but our national guilt ends there. And while I was simultaneously bursting with pride last night listening to Eli Rosenbaum—a Long Islander, one of us—and breaking with sorrow for Eugenie Mukeshimana, I must admit to what is perhaps the grossest of human emotions: envy.

I was envious that there are good souls in the world who value human life enough to listen, understand and learn. Envious that there are people like Rosenbaum who selflessly dedicate their lives to justice, no matter how belated it may be. Envious because neither exists for the invisible indigenous people of our nation considered by Stossel (and I’m sure many others) as “wards of our state.”

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Good Trip to Albany


I think my appearance on The Capitol Pressroom went pretty well. Check it out for yourself and offer your comments both here on Native Pride and on the podcast. http://thecapitolpressroom.org/the-capitol-pressroom-for-march-30-2011/.

I also took the opportunity to meet with the staffs of Senators Kennedy (D) and Maziarz (R) while they did battle in the Senate Chamber over the state budget. The basic request I made of both Senators and my charming host was to assist me in flushing out the true intent of the Taxation and Finance Department. Their claim that they simply intend to precollect state excise tax on cigarettes coming to Native retailers for resale is false and disengenuous. Beyond the problems that this "simple" proposition represents is a much bigger one that scarcely anyone is talking about and that is what the state plans to do about Native brands. Check out this show and my weekly show on WECK to get the low-down on this issue and the collision course the state is on with us. Also take a look at the previous post below for more information on what I brought to Albany.

My thanks to Rick Jemison for joining me on the trip and doing a great job representing the Seneca Free Trade Association.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

John Kane Will Be On "The Capitol Pressroom"

I will be a guest on "The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter" on Wednesday, March 30th. The show airs live on WCNY and can also be heard live on http://thecapitolpressroom.org/. The show is also broadcast on WBFO in Western New York on 88.7FM weekdays at 1 pm. For insight on the show topic, see the email I sent to the show's host below.


First I am sending a link to an article on my blog that captures most of my issues with "Attea". http://letstalknativepride.blogspot.com/2009/04/attea-is-not-land-mark-case-against.html. If you have trouble with the link just go to my blog and search "Attea" to bring it up. The only thing not mentioned in this article was the emphasis the court had in Moe and Colville on the fact that the Native retailers were just selling a non-native product back to the non-native public with no value added to that product but simply the state tax bypassed. 80% of our sales are Native brands manufactured in one territory of the Haudenosaunee or another and distributed to all. These brands are available exclusively through Native retailers. While I may concede that the states, including NY, may have the authority to tax the purchases of their residents on products used or consumed in their states, I reject the claim that they have authority over Native sales made on Native lands. The reality is that the states may only have the right to impose a "Use Tax" on their resident when that use occurs within the state's jurisdiction. The states have no authority to regulate the commercial activity on our territories. I say this not as a treaty right but simply as a right that was never conceded, although the right to our "free use and enjoyment" of or territories is acknowledged in treaty after treaty. On this note let me list a few issues that are never addressed by those that promote the states' authority: As I said, while I may concede the state may have authority to impose "Use Tax" on its residents, it certainly doesn't in all instances. In fact according to NYS Form CG-15 (http://www.tax.ny.gov/pdf/2010/altab/cg15i_710.pdf), everyone in the state is exempt from the cigarette use tax provided the cigarettes brought into the state for use do not exceed 400 cigarettes (2 cartons). With this in mind, the state is saying that all of its residents can leave the state's jurisdiction, purchase cigarettes without a NYS tax stamp and consume that product in the state. They just insist that those sales to their residents cannot be made from "Indians". The state does not consider their overreaching on the sales made on Native lands to non-native consumers that will not use the product in NYS. Many non-native consumers are from out of state. Prior to the passage of the PACT Act and losing 70% of our sale volume represented by remote sales, the vast majority of our sales were to out of state consumers (which, by the way, brought significant revenue into Western New York). Even still, with many of our communities close to the state borders, a notable percentage of our sales are to out-of-state residents. There is also no accounting for the consumption of cigarettes by non-native consumers on our lands. Since our territories are are among the last places on Earth that smoking is allowed in public places and between gaming facilities and other public events, it is fair to assume some of the cigarettes purchased by non-natives are not "used" in the state. There is simply no explanation how the state makes the leap from overturning "Attea" to claiming they have the right to stop Native retailers from selling cigarettes to non-native consumers without a NYS Tax stamp, especially when you consider that every other state and country can make those sales. Of course what I consider the white elephant in the room are Native brands. About a half dozen Native brands now represent over 80% of the sales of native retailers. The state's dirty little secret is that this is not about collecting taxes from Native sales but rather to end them. Several Native communities stamp their inventories and as such add a fee that results in a collective benefit to the community. Overnight, cigarettes will go from being discounted because of the Native regulatory advantage to being more expensive that off reservation prices. The state hopes that some of these lost sales will result in more sales of stamped product from off reservation sales. What is not talked about is to insure that all sales of untaxed product ends the state will essentially outlaw Native brands. Over the last few years the state and the ATF have collaborated in creating a circumstance that even Native brands are distributed by New York State wholesalers. Native brands were excluded from the Master Settlement Act (MSA) and as such cannot be stamped without the state forgoing the revenue they collect from MSA payments from Big Tobacco. Philip Morris has already challenged the making of MSA payments to NY because of the state's lack of enforcement of the MSA against Native brands sold on Native lands. Ironically, NYS had to defend our non-participation in the program citing that the MSA did not apply to us. This was obviously done to protect the state's revenue stream from the program that was borrowed against under the Pataki administration (a revenue that has already shrunk significantly since the PACT Act). So the end result is that once NYS wholesalers are required to sell only stamped products to Native retailers, Native brands will no longer be amongst them. Since NYS maintains that only state licensed wholesalers can ship unstamped cigarettes but not to Native wholesalers or retailers, Native wholesalers distributing Native brands to Native retailers will be subject to seizures and prosecution. The state would like everyone to believe that this is just about pre-collecting a tax that they are entitled to but much of the story is not spoken of. By attacking Native brands the state has moved well beyond interfering with commerce with "Indians" and clearly moves into interfering with the commerce of "Indians". the assumption that a Native wholesaler supplying a Native brand to a Native retailer will ultimately result in a sale to a non-native consumer does not give the state the right to impose itself on Native to Native trade. In fact the commerce clause of the US Constitution reserves the power to regulate commerce with "Indians" to Congress and makes no assumption about the delegation of authority to regulate the commerce of "Indian". It is interesting that Peter King is back in the news with his twisted views on terrorism. A few years back his office prepared a report entitled "Tobacco and Terror: How Cigarette Smuggling is Funding Our Enemies Abroad" ( http://chs-republicans.house.gov/list/press/homeland_rep/morenews/cigarettesmuggling.pdf ). In it he tries to make the public believe there is a direct link between Native sale of cigarettes and the funding of terrorists abroad. Patrick Fleenor with the Tax Foundation: http://www.taxfoundation.org/, suggested to me that the direct to consumer sales by Native retailers has done more to undo the illicit tobacco trade than all law enforcement combined. He argues that our sales cut out the middle men, particularly with the remote sales that have now been forced off shore. Our legal trade that used to bring millions of dollars of revenue into Western New York has already began to slip into the shadows by closing down Native remote sellers (mail-orders) via the PACT Act. Now those remote sales are conducted by who knows who from Russia, a few European countries and several in Africa. The state's attempt to end our face-to-face sales will push more business to organized crime and perhaps even to Mr. King's dreaded terrorists. With over 70% of our sales lost to the passage of the NYS supported PACT Act, one would assume that the state would have produced volumes of financial statements showing the sharp increase in tax revenue but to the contrary the state must be losing significant MSA revenue due to all the lost sales of premium brands sold to out-of-state consumers. NYS received a MSA payment for every carton of premium brand cigarettes sold by Native retailers. With Philip Morris and others joining in on the attack of Native businesses those sale are relegated to less than 10% of sales by Native retailers. Believe it or not I am holding back to try to keep this brief. There is much more about this issue from the protections of Native economies laid out in the U. N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to state and federal legislation continuing the assimilation programs of the past. I am not a smoker and I am neither in the business nor do I like the reliance on such an economy but if we can't defend our right to market our regulatory advantages in a legal product the way every other city, town, county, state and country does, no matter how un-PC that practice may be then what successful economic engine would be safe in our territories? Trust me, our fuel sales are next and gaming is always a battle.

John Kane - Karhiio

Host of "Let's Talk Native...with John Kane" on WECK 1230AM in Buffalo, NY www.letstalknativepride.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Let's Talk Native..." is an Opportunity for The Native Voice to be Heard

The show has been airing since August and since day 1 LTN has had an open mike for callers and guests to discuss Native issues. I tout the show as the only Native radio talk show in Western New York and a place for a full conversation on the issues that effect Native people, our lands and the people and regions around us. It takes a station like WECK 1230AM that is committed to local content to provide a forum for the expression of Native views. The show is paid programming and depends on support from the public to cover the airtime costs but for "Let's Talk Native..." airtime is only half the story. The shows are available not only on the AM dial but they stream live on the WECK web site: www.weck1230.com and can be heard after the broadcast on a surprising number of sites. The Coeur D'Alene home page actually features the latest show each week. A search of our show on Google gives 5 or 6 pages of links to various shows and sites. The point is that our words are getting out there. I encourage people to take me up on the invitation to participate in getting our message out there. Hopefully, more shows and opportunities to get honest exposure to the media will develop but for now this is it. As a show that airs in Buffalo, NY, I know most of the immediate listeners are non-native and likely an older demographic and that is a good thing. I say time and time again that our issues stand stronger in the court of public opinion than in a courthouse or a legislative chamber. We need venues like this, not to rant and rave about injustices but to educate and explain issues that can't be captured by a few quotes in the news. I know that with a format that includes an open mike that I will get the occasional haters and certainly those with opposing views but I look forward to those calls as well. Dispelling the myths and providing thoughtful and intelligent responses to those that question our integrity or intentions is the best way to demonstrate the legitimacy of our positions. My hope is that the conversations that are started on air will continue without my participation. On air, please be confident that I will treat callers and guests respectfully. I encourage listeners to offer comments and suggestions here or on air. Grade what you hear and if you don't like it offer your own wisdom. Look for the show on Tuesday from 11 till noon on WECK or online anytime.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Native Spark

By Matt Hill

Inside every Native person is a spark of who we once were. In some people it shines, some it glows, in most it flickers or is almost out. This spark was strong in our society of not too long ago. We carried it throughout our territory through a network of consensus decision making and mutual respect for the earth and each other. When we shared that spark through a decision based on what was right for now, and for the faces of the grandchildren we would never see. It grew in strength as more people recognized it as being the right thing to do. Our fire was strong.

Through our exposure to the elements of corruption, brought by the colonist after a devastating mass loss of people from disease, we were very vulnerable. Temptation of material things clouded the minds of some of our people. Our decision making was "not of a good mind". The core principal of our society was breached. The respect was fading.

The loss of that spark was further snuffed out by the influences of the boarding schools. There the children were punished, abused and on occasion killed, just for being Native. Out of love for their children, some of our Grandparents thought that if they didn't expose the children to who we once were, it would spare them from the pains. We were falling to assimilation. It was getting colder.

This assimilation has become so deep rooted that some don't even recognize the most basic elements of respect. This past week has shown me a lot. There is a major disconnect from what those elements are. We as a people need to recognize that our society is broken. It is a time to heal the wounds that have cut away at our world. It is hard even for a small room full of people to agree what kind of pizza to order! How are we supposed to win a fight against attacks on our peoples sovereignty if we only look out for our own personal interests and not the good of all? Learn who we are. Look out for each other. Talk to your elders. Read a book. Google it. Whatever it takes. Get your spark back. I did and I'm getting fired up!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Once again, Indian tobacco taxes assumed


Posted on February 2, 2011 at 5:43 pm by Rick Karlin, Capitol bureau in General, Indian Taxation
This has come up before, but Cuomo’s budget plan assumes that the state will get $130 million from, finally, taxing cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians.
From the budget’s revenue projections: 2011-12 Projections All Funds receipts are projected to be $1,786 million, an increase of $165 million, or 10.2 percent above 2010-11. This increase reflects the full year impact of the legislation enacted in 2010-11, including $130 million in cigarette tax revenue from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans.
News of the planned taxes was greeted warmly by an organization that has been pushing for that, the Enforce the Law, Collect the Tax Coalition “The Enforce the Law Collect the Tax Coalition applauds Governor Cuomo for projecting real and significant increases in cigarette tax revenue in his 2011-2012 Executive budget. By projecting excise tax collections from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans, the Governor’s Executive budget proposal is yet another clear indication of the administration’s commitment to rectifying this long standing inequity. We remain confident that the courts will soon conclude that the state is correct on these issues and will clear the way to collect these much needed revenues.”
A reality check may be in order here, since the Indian tobacco tax has been on the books, unenforced, for years and it was supposed to happen last year as the current budget was being finalized as well.

21 Comments
1. MomOfThree
February 2, 2011, 7:18 PM
I thought that every Indian nation had its own separate laws and therefore are not subject to outside laws. So how can Cuomo even bring this up?

2. joe_from_france
February 2, 2011, 7:49 PM
Including revenues from cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians shouldn’t that be considered another Budget “sham” Mr. Megna?

3. Smith
February 2, 2011, 8:06 PM
Perhaps the Governor is going to finally get our money’s worth from the $100,000 per year Troopers by using them to enforce the tax collection.

4. ezpickinz
February 2, 2011, 8:35 PM
These native Americans are not going to pay NYS one single cent of tax money. They would rather owe NYS than screw us out of that tax money. I think that NYS should stop maintaining the State highways that pass through the reservations and lead to their casinos. Not too long ago, the Seneca Nation wanted to charge a buck a car for each vehicle passing through their reservation along the NYS Thruway. OK; but payback is a bitch, ain’t it?

5. thelawisclear
February 2, 2011, 9:13 PM
MomofThree, courts have said a number of times that the state would not be taxing native americans. The state would be taxing native american sales to non-native americans. Their laws/treaties have nothing to do with it. This absolutely is an issue of enforcement and each of the last three governors have basically not even tried, even though they all count the revenue.
Talk about a scam.

6. Parma Ham
February 2, 2011, 10:26 PM
Smith, good point about the troopers, how about starting them at $45k and letting them up to $60k after 10 years. i bet you’d get no shortage of quality applicants

7. Lwoodbluz
February 3, 2011, 3:37 AM
What the state really needs to do is set up checkpoints right outside the reservations to collect duties(taxes) from people leaving the Nation. Just a simple “Do you have anything to declare?” and a search if necessary should bring in the revenue.
And don’t worry about the Native Americans closing off the Thruway like they did in 1997. They want thier casino money, they won’t close thier lifeline to all that revenue.

8. ResidentX
February 3, 2011, 5:54 AM
its really not a big problem… if the taxes arent collected we can just layoff more state workers. I mean, thats what they are there for… right?

9. Walt
February 3, 2011, 7:20 AM
The state will lose on this as well as all the other bullying tactics they are attempting!

10. UnCivilServant
February 3, 2011, 7:41 AM
What I don’t get is why we continue this farce. The residents of these “nations” have Us Citizenship and the right to vote in US elections, and thus should be subject to all taxes imposed on the rest of us. We should stop pretending that they aren’t part of this country. The annexation was complete almost a century ago, sweep away the last vestages of deceit and bring our fellow citizens into the fold.

11. WHAT A JOKE
February 3, 2011, 8:02 AM
The tribes want New York services? The Tribes should then pay New York taxes. What’s complicated here? The Tribes can’t have it both ways.

12. Albany Resident
February 3, 2011, 8:50 AM
How about we cut the $130,000,000.00 out of the budget. If the blood-suckers at the capital don’t have it, maybe, just maybe, Cuomo won’t let them spend it. But thats probably as much a pipe dream as collecting the tax is in the first place. However I do like Lwoodbluz take on it. We have checkpoints at the entrances/exits to our other “Nation” neighbors, they want soveriegnty then treat them like it!

13. K2
February 3, 2011, 9:28 AM
@ mom of three, if they are a sovereign nation why do they receive state and federal funds.
They can accept our tax dollars but can’t collect taxes on non-natives? It is one or the other not both.

14. From Western New York
February 3, 2011, 10:41 AM
The new tax revenues will NOT be achieved. First off, there is the whole issue of elasticity. People will buy fewer cigarettes. Second there is whole substitution issue. People will seek other, cheap sources. Finally, part of the tax revenue will need to be diverted to pay for unemployment, welfare, WIC, etc. as New York Jobs are killed by the Governor.

15. Robin Hackett
February 3, 2011, 11:02 AM
@From Western New York…you’re right. I already buy my ciggarettes in the states I travel through. I haven’t bought a pack in NY since Patterson’s last luxury tax increase.

16. jimbo
February 3, 2011, 12:55 PM
If the Tribes have to tax non-residents, their cigarette sales will drop like a rock anyway, so the revenue the budget is projecting in new taxes is just an excuse to spend more money they won’t have.
The border patrol checkpoints on the tribal territory boundaries is an interesting idea. I wonder how many state workers they would have to hire to man those stations? They could easily suck up all that extra revenue and create new state worker jobs at the same time. The additional funds would never make it out of the administrative funds necessary to implement it, the unions would look good and a few western state lawmakers would look good come next election……

17. WNYTaxpayer
February 3, 2011, 1:10 PM
All DTF has to do is to subpoena the Merchant Account Processors for the Indian retailors and compare the list of who made purchases with visa, mastercrad, etc. that did not report it on their state income taxes and issue notice of deficiencies to them.

18. can't uc
February 3, 2011, 3:16 PM
If the plan is imposed on the natives to collect taxes on sales to non-natives , it will only create a huge black market making more natives very wealthy.

19. pragmatic
February 3, 2011, 7:26 PM
It is time for Andy to stand up and shut down the indian casinos. Spitzer had the chance but lacked the courage. Lets see if Andy has the guts to stand up to this special interest group

20. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:10 AM
We should be clear that the state knows this new law will not generate revenue from Native sales. The intent of the law is to shut off supply to Native retailers of unstamped product. If Native retailers lose their regulatory advantage, Native sales will end. The question is will those sales be made elsewhere and where? The numbers that are being used in this budget are a sham. They are based on past sales and assume that as Native sales are lost that a significant portion of them will become taxed sales. Over the past year Native sales in Western New York have fallen by 80% due to shutting down the US Post Office from delivering remote sales of tobacco. Even without Native sales, the state loses far more than $130 million in revenue leakage to out-of-state sales; this would obviously increase with the loss of Native sales, which by the way still contribute to the NYS economy. Of couse a fair amount of people will just not be able to afford to smoke and while that maybe a good thing from a health standpoint, it certainly does nothing for the state’s budget. The other thing, only lightly touched on by other comments is the price of enforcement. The last time the state did battle with the Indians it cost $23 million per month and that was before troopers were making $100,000 per year. The final point overlooked is the resiliency of Native retailers. They will still find product to sell, with or without New York State wholesalers.

21. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:19 AM
Another point that the media refuses to point out is that the state allows everyone in the state to purchase and consume in the state cigarettes without NYS tax applied up to two cartons per consumer. NYS Form CG-15 for Cigarette Use Tax clearly lays out the exemption (http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/2010/altab/cg15i_710.pdf). Apparently, the state’s position is that these untaxed sales can be made anywhere outside New York's jurisdiction except on Native lands.