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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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.

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.


Lawrence Sampson said...

All I can say is....hell yeah.

Anonymous said...

You folks sure do hang on to your status of victimization.

There are other indigenous peoples who choose other ways. In my experience, we're stronger and more healthy than those of you who raise your children with an undercaste mentality.