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, 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.'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, 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 to hear the State's Budget Director and my segment with Jim Calvin.

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