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 17, 2012

Move Over "Occupiers"! We Are "Idle No More"


We have gone from more than the 99% to the 1%. No, we have not become is the privileged 1% that the OWS crowd railed against. We are the survivors of the largest and longest continuous act of genocide the world has ever known.

Perhaps December 21,2012 is the end of the world after all, at least the end to a world of occupiers trampling those people closest to the very Earth we cherish as our own mother. We are "Idle No More". We don't need your Zucatti Park or Berkley  or D.C. or Ottawa. We'll fight you from home. Who would have thought that a handful of dedicated Native women would decide when enough was enough?

Thank you, Canada for getting so lost in your arrogance that you have finally awakened those of us charged with protecting our mother from you and your kind. Pass your Bill C-45 and all your acts of pretend legislation and watch us shut down your highways and your rail and your inland navigation. We have endured your broken promises, your residential schools, your racist policies, your "Indian Act" and, of course, your apologies; but we are "Idle No More".

Watch as your American Idol to the South ratchets up its attention to the Warrior Flags. Watch as they cling to their 9-11 rhetoric, their PATRIOT Act and their hope that their border will protect them from a movement they hope they can blame on you. Oh how they long for that "pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them". We are "Idle No More".

The season that has seen the largest mass execution in the history of the US at Mankato, the murder of Sitting Bull and the massacre at Wounded Knee finds us "Idle No More". Follow this movement at  http://idlenomore.com/ or at http://idlenomore1.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IdleNoMoreCommunity?fref=ts.

You won't find the mainstream media covering this so look for it. Look here. "Let's Talk Native..." will follow the growth of this and will help give it voice. We look to those who praise the UN and its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to step up. Don't allow the US and Canada to "support" its aspirations provided it does not conflict with their laws. Stand with us as we clearly show that their laws DO conflict with what the World has called the "minimum standard" for treatment of an abused people. Our people are committed to peace but we are not pacifists. We are "Idle No More".
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"Let's Talk Native..." Needs Support


"Let's Talk Native..." has been on the air for almost 2 1/2 years yet it is still not sustainable. With only a handful of dedicated supporters and a smaller group yet that has done the heaviest lifting when it comes to footing the bill to stay on air, I question both the effectiveness of the show and whether a strong enough need or even a desire for what I am attempting to provide exists. 
I have no real product to sell and the service may not be perceived as a daily essential. While I do believe that there has been real and tangible benefit to people today for the work I do on LTN and elsewhere, advocacy is really about trying to prevent the next crisis and less about repairing the ones of the past. 
I don't know if advertisers or sponsors on my show get a good return on their investment, in terms of marketing dollars, but what I do know is that those businesses tell my listeners that they care about getting our issues out there. They tell the public that they are committed to advancing the Native conversation and refuse to allow us to be marginalized.
"Let's Talk Native..." is not a weapon. It's purpose is not to create enemies with harsh words and war cries but a tool to win people over with education and insight. There certainly are those who would like to see the show gone but they will not determine the success or failure of the program. Nor will the current supporters. They may keep the show afloat but the success of the show will be determined by new support and those who want the show on the air, those who are glad someone is doing what I am doing but have still not stepped up to support it. 
"Let's Talk Native..." needs more support to continue. The show is paid programming on commercial radio in a significant urban market. The 50,000 watt signal of WWKB 1520AM may be sketchy for some listeners in Seneca territory but it blasts strong enough fanning out to the East that it is heard from Montreal to Washington D.C. (on good nights). The show streams live on-line and on the Tunein app for smartphones. Past shows are listened to after airing thousands of times on my blog, including by all the major agencies in Albany and Washington. 
Bill and Melinda Gates or the Carnegie Foundation won't give us a voice and all the proclamations, resolutions and declarations from the White House, the US Capital or the United Nations won't assist us in educating ourselves and those around us. It is on us. 
Comment your thoughts here, message me on Facebook for suggestions or contact me at jmkane1220@aol.com.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

November was what? Our month? Really? Who knew?

I was asked to speak on the importance of National Native American Heritage Month. Uh...? We had a month? Did I miss the "Dances with Wolves" marathon or "Pocahontas" running continuously on one of the half dozen Disney channels? Nope, never happened. No one bothered. No one really took notice.

On November 1st, President Obama even made a public "Proclamation". Look! it's on the White House website and everything. So how did we miss it? The fact is that every November since 1994 has been proclaimed by US Presidents as such. 
But like with most things Native, we continue to be invisible. Of course, we only seem to be invisible when there is something positive to say. Blaming Senecas for the City of Niagara Falls' financial woes is always news worthy. I even had someone from one of the mainstream media outlets suggest that it was too bad we didn't put out local press releases on the subject. I responded by saying I thought the President of the United States issuing a statement would have been enough.

Now I don't want to suggest that everyone was oblivious to "our" month. Certainly, some took the opportunity to bring speakers to a variety of events and I believe those that had an opportunity to learn some of our history are better for it. But getting back to the original request...

It is hard to make much of a case for the importance of such a thing if barely anyone even knew. But like many of the things I write and speak about, this too can create opportunities. We need to be honest about our histories; shared and distinct. We also need both Native and non-native people understand how we got to today; for better and for worse. There needs to be an acknowledgement that our people are not just suffering from "historical trauma" but from policies that continue today.

Assimilation is not a period of American history. It is a policy that begins with Christian missionaries and continues with ATF and BIA agents today. The President's proclamation even included a National commitment to ensure "equal opportunity to pursue the American dream". This too is assimilation. Our lives were pretty good before the American Holocaust, before 6 centuries of genocide ranging from the slavery to gold of Christopher Columbus to the small pox blankets of Lord Geoffrey Amherst and George Washington's security in the "terror with which the chastisement they (Senecas) receive will inspire them". Does it come across as ungrateful to not want to embrace this fairy tale that is the "American Dream"? If so, too bad. Keep it. Keep it with your George Washington and his cherry tree, the Christian Discovery Doctrine, Manifest Destiny and White Man's Burden. All lies! Let's tell the truth.

November should be an opportunity to shine a little more light on who were are. I know most would rather talk about who we were, but we are still here. And no matter how much time goes by, how many overtures, apologies and proclamations are made, there is still no basis in any one's law to suggest that we no longer have claim to our lands, our distinction and our autonomy.

The truth is that we gave the world more than a "dream". We showed a world without dictators or monarchs, a world without standing armies and prisons and a world where liberty was a reality not just a concept. What became of that "dream", our reality, has been a systematic dismantling of a way of life that 18th century philosophers only "dreamed" about.

Perhaps next year when President Obama issues his proclamation, he'll offer more than the opportunity to dream about being rich Americans and he will begin to understand that our dreams are not "American". And perhaps the media, academia and civic leaders will notice. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Don't Vote! The Two Row Is Only One Reason

The basic question for a Native person is: "How does anyone who claims to be Sovereign; a person distinct from the American culture, a Native person tied to the land and ways of their ancestors, immune from US laws and jurisdiction, a survivor of the greatest genocide the world has ever know; vote in the elections of the government responsible for that genocide?" The Native person that votes or worse yet advocates other Native people to vote in non-native elections is not a survivor of that genocide. They are fallen victims. 

Genocide is a physical crime and a psychological one as well. The era of small pox blankets, mass executions, starvation, sterilization, murder, rape and concentration camps are by and large a thing of the past. But since the time leading up to the residential schools, the good Christian societies of the US and Canada adopted the "Kill the Indian; save the man" strategy. This turned assimilation into a whole new game. It worked hand and hand with major land reduction and major "depopulation" programs (some directly incorporated in the residential schools) but concentrated on indoctrination more so than extermination. Native languages were wiped out, often times, in one generation. Traditional names were erased from the lips and ears of children as were the stories, ceremonies, teachings and any sense of identity. Histories were rewritten and inferiority of our entire race was reinforced with alcohol and isolation. In 1924 when the US Senate "declared" all Indians born in the US to be US citizens, some viewed this as a step up from centuries of criminal mistreatment. But most at the time were as apathetic to this Citizenship Act as they were to all the other bullshit laws the state and federal governments passed. Besides, how could one nation legislate away the nationality of hundreds of distinct peoples anyway? Is that even legal? Where could such a thing be legal?

We have a wampum belt that has been used over and over again to symbolize a very simple concept. The Two Row Wampum, known as the Kaswentha or Tekeni Tiohate, is as simple in its meaning as it is in its design. Two rows of purple wampum each two beads wide separated and bordered by rows of white wampum, three beads wide; creating the image of two purple paths on a white background. One of those paths is ours, the Haudenosaunee. The other is for each those with whom we entered into a covenant of mutual respect. That first vow was with Creation. We acknowledged that all of creation had a path and that our path must respect the paths that Creation provided. We extended that "treaty" to other Ohnkwe Ohnwe, understanding that some of these relatives had paths distinct from ours and that overcoming man's tendency to war and violence required a symbol of mutual respect. When it came to the white man, this concept needed a new metaphor. Acknowledging paths across our "mother" couldn't work for a landless people. So when the Kaswentha was offered to them, the two rows were described as two vessels upon the river of life; the ship and the canoe. This new party and their relatives that followed had no common history and little common philosophy of all of the Creation as we knew it. So, much was spelled out about how neither vessel would attempt to steer or dominate the other. The voyage of each would be respected and unencumbered by the other. Neither people would attempt to ride with a foot in each vessel although each would offer friendship and assistance as the waters got rough. Simple and beautiful when bound by trust and respect. Simple and naive when offered to deceivers.
This concept absolutely cannot justify the Act of 1924 (or any of their acts of pretend legislation) or our people voting in non-native elections. The myth that our vote matters cannot justify taking a willing step toward assimilation either. 

But let me address this propaganda.

Not only has the Native population been diminished to a point of insignificance as a percent of the American population but our people have been sliced and diced, force marched from homeland to the lands of others, separated by imaginary borders (including national, state, county, town, state districts, congressional districts and who knows what else). The Seneca Nation alone has their adult population of a few thousand separated by three counties and at least that many congressional districts and state districts (if those could even apply on Seneca land). So when you cut, what some might believe could be, one voice up three or more ways it gets pretty insignificant. This, of course, does not even address the fact that not all of us would vote if it were appropriate or vote for the same party or candidate anyway. so where is this "power of the vote"? Voting in a system that arguably is not ours, forces us to accept the results and the ownership of these public servants. Of course, you gotta ask, who owns who? at that point.

Where our power is, is in our sovereignty. The very thing we jeopardize by lining up with them in their vessel. Our strength is in our autonomy; our distinction. And that distinction could not be made more clear than by erasing those lines that separate us, making clear that our lands are NOT in their districts, their towns, their counties, their states or their nation. Oh yeah, and by not voting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Effort Continues to Bring the Floor Tax Issue to the White House

Despite having my legs cut out in the effort I initiated with Congressman Brian Higgins and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand to secure a meeting with a White House advisor by "indirect pressure" from the Seneca Nation, I continue to pursue a meeting with the Senior Policy Advisor on Native American Affairs to the White House. A familiar Native face in Washington, Jodi Gillette has now replaced Kim Teehee, the first to hold such a post.

Things were going well with the legislators until they backed out of working to correct a problem they created by passing the Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act. CHIPRA is a law designed to provide health insurance to kids. It was passed back in 2009 and went into effect on April 1 of that year and is funded by a $6.16 increase to the Federal Excise Tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products.

Stuck on the tail end of the law is the Floor Tax. This provision was intended to keep manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, under the jurisdiction of US commerce laws from stockpiling product in advance of the tax increase for sale after, thereby pulling a one-time tax avoidance maneuver.

Since there has never been a circumstance where the federal government (or the state for that matter) has ever attempted to collect a tax on property, legally purchased, in Native possession and on Native lands, "after-the-fact", we all assumed this provision could not possibly apply to us. Not to mention that most of the businesses involved in the tobacco trade on Native lands at the time were remote retailers or "mail orders" which, by design, didn't even stock an inventory. They simply order from a wholesaler what a customer ordered from them, essentially only ordering what was already sold.

But low and behold, almost three years later, a new tax collecting agency called the Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB) went on a tear. Letters started to pour in around Christmas of 2011 and continued into 2012 assessing Native retailers and wholesalers millions of dollars  of "floor tax" for product the TTB BELIEVED was "held" when the clock struck midnight on April Fools Day of 2009. Ironically, many of these assessments were on mail order businesses that had already been killed by the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) by this time, leaving individuals no longer even in business with this alleged "liability".

The offices of both Higgins and Gillibrand confessed that no consideration was given to the applicability of this law on Native people or Native lands and conceded that the actions of TTB were an "unintended consequence" of the law. A mistake!

The question for the White House is the same put to these two legislators: Did you intend for this precedent to be set and a "new" tax imposed on our sovereign land? We think not and believe Mr. Obama could and should make this go away.

All I asked of Mr Higgins and Ms. Gillibrand was to help with a meeting; to facilitate. By all means write a letter but let's take it up the line to someone who can encourage a tax collection agency to halt their overzealousness and use the broad discretion, that they all have, for pursuing legislative intent instead of interpreting the law in the broadest context possible. But conflicting sentiment within the Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI), which pits the now outgoing president and his loathing of private sector businesses against the brightest spot in the region for economic success (in spite state and federal regs to derail them), caused unnamed underlings, with questionable authority to carry the message to stop all efforts that John Kane had begun.

Before Rob Porter ever became president of the SNI, as a policy advisor, he sent an email out to all SNI officials about an effort to stop the PACT Act. The effort was organized by Seneca businesspersons to protect the mail order tobacco businesses that this act was intended to kill. An attorney from a prestigious law firm put the plan together and asked me if I would be willing to help. In Porter's email he describe the attorney involved as a "white attorney", compared him to a snake oil salesman and mentioned that the plan was to involve "John Kane, a Mohawk and former Ross john employee".

I asked both Ross John and the attorney involved what they thought was worse to Rob, being a white attorney, a snake oil salesman, a Mohawk or a Ross John employee. Neither was too sure. Well, Rob, which is it?

As Rob fades into obscurity, be assured that white lawyers, Ross John and John Kane (a Mohawk) will remain relevant. And with every success we have in pushing back on the state and the federal government, I'll offer a round of Snake Oil.

In the meantime, it's on you, Ms. Gillette. Let's discuss this, not like men but like Ohnkwe Ohnwe, real human beings (real to our past and real to our future). Help your boss, the President, do the right thing. After all this is your job; advise on Native affairs. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Federal Agents Raid a Seneca Business


Wednesday, shortly before 11am, 20-30 federal agents moved on to the Seneca territory of Cataraugus to arrest Will Parry and to search his home and business. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came in en masse after a long undercover investigation that spanned from Kansas City, Missouri to the Native lands of the Seneca. Whether it is a coincidence that Parry was singled out in what many would perceive as a pretty brazen assault on a strong community of Senecas remains to be seen. Parry has had an on-going dispute with the Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI) business regulators and challenges the authority of their Import-Export Commission to tax and regulate Seneca businesses. With or without SNI approval or involvement the ATFE asserted federal authority/aggression over a Seneca man on Seneca soil. Will Parry is accused of violating a federal wire fraud and telecommunications statute in the purchase of cigarettes; not drug, guns or bombs: cigarettes. 

This raid constitutes the second armed act of aggression this year by federal authorities within sovereign Native lands of the Western Door of the Haudenosaunee. Early this year almost 100 federal agents raided several businesses on the territory of the Tonawanda Senecas. Most in this area can not remember a time when the federal government has taken such aggressive actions against Native people. Add to this heavy handed attempts by the IRS and the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) agents to impose and collect income and "floor" taxes against individuals and tribal governments and the atmosphere is clearly unprecedented. 

A US President who spends millions on photo ops with "real Indians" and even has a Crow Indian name has signed several bills into law that killed thousands of jobs and businesses on Native lands and has TTB agents adding insult to that injury by attempting to impose millions of dollars in "floor tax" on those very businesses and others. There are some "BIA Indians" out west that will swear that Mr. Obama is the best president "Indians" have ever seen (of course that includes the Crow). In the lands of the Haudenosaunee the president is called Ranahtakaias. This name started with Washington and has been used for the 43 since. The "Town Destroyer" that now sits in the White House will almost certainly serve a second term before the 45th Rahnatakaias is served up and as such the question is: will he continue to violate the sovereignty of Native people?

This year also saw this Rahnatakaias tepidly endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It wasn't a full endorsement but rather an endorsement for the "aspirations" of the Declaration (provided, of course, it doesn't conflict with US laws or undermine the current remedy for Native conflicts; US courts). So tepid or not, what does a Declaration signed by every nation of the UN mean? And  how can it be reconciled with the actions of this administration in DC? The question is not for the US courts but for the World. 

Many would offer a complete disconnect between this Rahnatakaias and the US Attorneys and federal agencies directly involved in the aggression. But that simply can't fly around here. This guy even has a Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House. In fact, he is on his second one; Jodi Gillette was appointed this year after Kimberly Teehee left the post. Surely White House Indians gotta help close that gap.

All said and done, Will Parry sits in chains today not sure what the future holds. These things never go well in court (that's their plan). Can it be pulled out? Perhaps. The two raids this year cannot be erased but the next one does not have to happen and the current charges don't need to be pursued. 

What is to make this stop? Time to get Jodi to put a bug in the ear of the 44th Rahnatakaias. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Who Gives the UNDRIP Force? We Do, That's Who!

The United Nations has designated every August 9th to be the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. I usually don't pay much attention to these things because as it turns out, that while plenty of Native people from North America make the trek to the UN and quite frequently, there is little or nothing the UN has for programs to support the Native people in the US or Canada. Why? The US and Canada won't allow it!

But this August 9th I happened to be in New York to guest host for Tiokasin Ghosthorse on his program, "First Voices Indigenous Radio" and as more luck would have it; the theme for our "special day" was "Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices". Now I was not invited to this event, mind you, even though I regularly host the only weekly Native talk radio show in the state other than the one I happened to be guest hosting. But having sat in for Tiokasin on that Thursday morning, doing a pretty good show I might add, I was packing up for my trip back home when I received an email about the event. I was literally staying walking distance from the UN and had no reason to rush home so I made a call to make sure they'd let me in and off to the UN I went.

I was a little surprised that the event was generating a decent crowd but then I realized that Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, himself was giving an address to start us off. His words were strong and supportive as were remarks from the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs (the entire event was webcast by the UN and can be viewed at http://bcove.me/pqzmwpkm). As all the "Indigenous" events at the UN are, this one too was dominated by Native people from here and, yes of course, I managed to get to a microphone as well. As I often do, I raised the question about where the rubber meets the road on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP); where does it get teeth to match its strong words and detailed restrictions.

I don't go to the UN often but when I do, I usually leave with a hollow feeling. I never get the sense that the international community is ever really going to address the American genocide that still continues today. But a funny thing happened this trip. after hearing some comments from one of the panelists, Professor J. Kehaulani Kauanui from Hawaii via Wesleyan University, and engaging her a bit in my comments, I had a change of heart. Professor Kauanui mentioned two things about the UNDRIP. First she acknowledged the absence of the force of law regarding the Declaration. She mentioned other proclamations, resolutions and announcements, including the US apology for the crimes committed against the people of Hawaii, and how courts have deemed them inadmissible or of no legal consequence, just words. But she expressed the significance of them anyway. And it hit me that it is not the US or Canadian courts that need to give these ratified documents force. It is us that need to. The only true court of the people is the court of public opinion and it is in this court that we must prosecute those that violate the rule of law, Natural Law. That is really all this document acknowledges; the simple laws of nature and birthright. We need to cite every article and section that is violated every time they are violated. No matter what nation it is or what state or province it is that violates it.

The other suggestion Ms. Kauanui made was to bring the education of the UNDRIP local. Get the all those universities, most of which sit on negotiated parcels of our lands, to host events where Native and non-native people can learn how the world views our issues, including state, provincial and federal officials. This is how WE give the Declaration force. US and Canadian courts are not the places for our issues to be "remedied". We don't need their law makers to add to the long list of ambiguous, or otherwise meaningless, "Federal Indian Laws". To the contrary; their courts need to stop trying adjudicate our sovereignty away and their legislatures need to stop trying legislate sovereignty out and "our special status" in.

It is simple, just follow what every UN nation has agreed to; the UNDRIP! They all signed it. We now need to hold them to it. We need to give it force. And let those nations who are concerned that the UNDRIP may conflict with their constitutions, laws, or worse yet, their religions, have that conflict exposed. Let us show the  rest of the world the world we live in and let us show the clear genocide that continues still today in spite of this Declaration.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Is it True that Casino Gambling is tied to Organized Crime?: Has the Lure of Easy Money Turned NYS to Extortion?

Allow me to once again state the obvious. The State has no right to revenue from Native gaming operations. According to federal law, they may negotiate repayment for their costs associated with the regulation of Class  3 gaming but they are not entitled to a "cut". The State may, however, offer something of value to a Native gaming operation for some consideration and this is the crux of the current conflict between the Senecas and the State.
The Seneca people always felt that their gaming enterprises should be a part of a regional development and that a certain benefit should be realized by the entire Western New York region. As such, the plan to develop some level of revenue sharing was never a problem for the Senecas. The question was what was the "thing of value" that could be offered up for a share of gaming revenue? Well it wasn't exactly the only question as it turns out. The powers that be in Albany wanted to be out in front of this conversation and basically took the position with the Senecas that Albany would take care of Western New York and that any "deal" would be with them.
The standard offering in other states has always been gaming exclusivity for a percent of the slot drop. There is clearly a benefit for a gaming enterprise if there can be an assurance that there would be no competition within their market area. For the most part this is really all the states can offer, outside of direct financial support. And so this is what New York served up; a competition free zone that would include all of Western New York in exchange for 25% of the slot revenue. Out of this cut that the State would receive 75% would stay in State coffers for Albany to squander with a quarter going to the three cities where the Senecas reclaimed land for gaming and none to the region as a whole.
And for this generous offering from the Senecas the State was to ensure gaming exclusivity for the region. Now this may not reek of extortion yet even if it has the hint of "protection money" because, let's be honest, it is protection money. The Senecas agreed to pay the guys with the muscle to protect their market and in more than a small way allowed the State to get into the Casino business by proxy. Where this less than holy arrangement gets even dirtier is when the State decides to violate its side of the deal and not just allow competition against the Senecas but to be the competition. And not for a minute did the State hesitate to insist that the "protection money" keep flowing.
New York State now has 9 of its own casinos, placed discretely on grounds already tainted by the sin of gaming, their failing horse racing tracks. Three of them are in the "exclusivity zone" of the Senecas. Although it is not clear how much these venues generate it is rumored that the State's casinos pull in close half a billion dollars per year. It is also unclear if the State writes a check for 25% back to those "host communities" but what is clear is that they are not writing a check to the three cities that lost out when the Senecas stopped paying the State for protection that isn't there.
In a campaign to pit Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca against the Senecas, the State plugged itself in between the relationship from the start and now leaves those communities with no benefit from gaming revenue; not from the Seneca sites nor from the racetrack sites. As effective as this campaign may have been in certain political circles, it has not forced anyone's hand. Although the effects of how much this has degraded Native/State relations has been fairly obvious, only now through several recent comments is it clear how vindictive the State and State leadership has become.
When the State only had estimates on how much money they believed they were losing to Native retailers over tax issues they could keep a steady drum beat going and keep some momentum going on pushing anti-Native policies. But having a specific and known number like half a billion dollars in an escrow account just out of reach or gaping holes in three of their municipalities' budgets where gaming dollars once were, certainly has emboldened the Governor in ratcheting up the pressure. Add to this an obvious dislike for each other and the inflated egos that both the executive of the State and of the Seneca Nation have, and the seeds are sown for even more hostility.
So this brings us to a grave admission from the Governor and at least one of his commissioners that a conscious decision has been made to connect the gaming revenue dispute to the State's refusal to fulfill its obligations to maintain the roads that cross Seneca territory. Who knew that it would be Mr. Cuomo that would show such a lack of forethought and composure? It would be different if the crumbling roads and bridges traveled by significantly more non-native than Native people were only in a general state of disrepair. But a large piece of Interstate 86 where it cuts through the Seneca territory of Allegany fell in the river last year and it was just luck that no one was killed. This road which only recently gained "Interstate" designation has the worst stretch through Seneca territory and is a tire blowing, rim bending treacherous ride even without a road collapse. The bridges over the Thruway (I-90) on the Cattaraugus Territory are equally disturbing as is the bridge entering the territory on Routes 5&20.
For the Governor to consciously place public safety at risk, not through negligence but as a strategy and to offer as a solution to shut down unsafe roads clearly crosses a line and even in the absence of exaggeration or embellishment meets the threshold for extortion. It certainly begs the question as to who has been corrupted here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Senecas Clash With Police Over Tax Ruling (July 17, 1992)


New York Times - Published: July 17, 1992
A tax war between Seneca Indians and New York State grew more divisive today as Indians dropped burning tires off a highway overpass and clashed with state police.
Thirteen protesters were arrested and at least four state troopers were injured, including the force's commander in western New York.
About 200 Indians began burning tires and other debris about 7 P.M. Wednesday to protest taxes the state wants to impose on the sale of gasoline and cigarettes at reservations.
About midnight, protesters started throwing burning debris from an overpass onto the Gov. Thomas E. Dewey Thruway, which borders the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation 30 miles southwest of Buffalo. 30-Mile Stretch Closed
State troopers in riot gear cleared protesters from the overpass and put out the fire, said Maj. George Meyer. Thirteen protesters were arrested.
Troopers closed a 30-mile stretch of the Thruway around the reservation when the confrontation began. The highway reopened at 6 A.M. today.
During the protest, Maj. Bruce Roloff, commander of Troop A in western New York, was hit in the head with a two-by-four, Major Meyer said. Major Roloff was listed in fair condition at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo.
Three other troopers and three protesters were slightly injured when protesters drove cars into the crowd, the police said.
More than 200 extra troopers were sent to the reservation from around New York state today, said Sgt. Gregory Lang. Dozens of state police cars lined the Thruway near the reservation this afternoon, and troopers stopped and questioned drivers entering the reservation.
The protests were prompted by a ruling last week by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court allowing New York to tax sales of gas and cigarettes to non-Indians on reservations.
Karl Felsen, a New York tax spokesman, said the state loses about $50 million a year because of tax-free sales of gas and cigarettes by Indians. Retailers near reservations say Indian vendors have an unfair advantage.
Centuries-old treaties prohibit taxing sales to Indians. But Indians say those treaties also apply to sales by Indian vendors to non-Indians.
Calvin John, the Seneca Nation president, said he would organize a committee to decide how to fight the tax ruling.
Robert Batson, deputy director of the state Indian relations office, said officials from his office also were in touch with Seneca leaders but could do little to control the violence.
"That's like the United Nations trying to control Sarajevo," Mr. Batson said.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Senator Maziarz Calls on the NYS Tax Commissioner to Put the State's Policy in Writing; Again!

June 27,2012


Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Building 9, State Campus
Albany, New York 12227


Re:  Native American Cigarettes


Dear Commissioner Mattox:


I write today as a follow-up to my May 16, 2011 letter regarding the collection of New York State Sales Tax on Native territories for the sale of tobacco products to individuals that are not Native American. To date, I have not received a response from your office to clarify the State's policy on this issue.


In the meantime, there have been other developments relating to Native American cigarettes that require further clarification from your office. For instance, the NYS Office of the Attorney General recently directed certain manufacturers of Native Brand cigarettes to cease and desist shipping, selling and distributing such brands in New York State (including on Native territories). The Attorney General's office cited the role of licensed stamping agents and required state excise taxes as the reason for the order.


The position of the attorney General's office seems to contradict a recent decision of the NYS Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County. The June 18, 2012 decision related to the taxability and seizure of Native American cigarettes that were made by a New York manufacturer and shipped out-of-state. In that decision, the judge rejected the contention that New York State tax laws only allow manufacturers of Native Brands to make out-of-state sales through a licensed agent so the taxes can be prepaid through the purchase of stamps.


In my view, the recent court case acknowledges that Native Brand cigarettes that are produced and sold on lands owned by Native Nations constitute commerce that is Native to Native. As such, these transactions cannot (and should not) be regulated or taxed by the State of New York. To do so would be contrary to the sovereign rights of the Native American Nations, and would have a significant negative impact on the Native retail economy.


Although the NYS Supreme Court case starts to provide some direction on the status of the taxation of Native American cigarettes, there is still much uncertainty in this area. Consequently, we request that you provide written clarification to us as soon as possible. It is critical that the citizens of New York and their elected representatives know the intention of your Department with regard to the collection of State taxes on Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products.


I look forward to your timely reply and toward working with you to resolve these important issues. 


Sincerely,


George D. Maziarz
Senator, 62nd District  

Friday, June 22, 2012

New York Supreme Court Orders the NYS Police and St. Lawrence County DA to "return, immediately, any and all property seized" from HCI Distribution


 On Monday, June 18, 2012, New York State Supreme Court Justice, David Demarist ordered the return of  26,160 cartons of unstamped/untaxed cigarettes and cigars as well as 72 bags of loose tobacco seized by State Police from Ho-Chunk, Inc. of Nebraska. back in January. 

Demarist's decision read:
"In light of the lack of any legal authority for the seizure herein, it is the Decision of this Court, and it is hereby,
ORDERED, that the Respodents return, immediately, any and all property seized."

The decision is good and it is good to see an unlawful seizure overturned but there are a few things not addressed in the decision.

First, there is no action taken against the St. Lawrence County District Attorney for unlawfully tying up almost $2 million in product for 6 months.

Nor does the decision address the cost of the seizure as it relates to the added cost of transportation, legal costs or the possible expiration of the freshness of the product.

The Judge clearly rules that the State has no authority to seize unstamped product being transported from a Native territory within the State to a location outside the State. But HCI should not have conceded in their argument that:

 "It is well established, and not contested by the Petitioner, that the State has the ability to tax on-reservation sales of cigarettes to non-members of an Indian tribe".

 Attea, Moe, Colville and Potawatomi all draw a distinction on the state's authority to tax products that "Indians" add value to as opposed to just reselling non-native manufactured products.

"The specific kind of state tax obligation that New York's regulations are designed to enforce--which falls on non Indian purchasers of goods that are merely retailed on a reservation--stands on a markedly different footing from a tax imposed directly on Indian traders, on enrolled tribal members or tribal organizations, or on "value generated on the reservation by activities involving the Tribes,"
 Colville, 447 U. S., at 156-157. Moe, Colville and Potawatomi." (From the Stevens opinion on Attea).

This is basically drawing a distinction from simply retailing a non-native product to non-native purchasers to avoid tax collection and selling a Native made product without tax. Even their courts consistently acknowledges the latter is not taxable.

Native manufactured brands are not "merely retailed on a reservation". They are developed, branded, manufactured, marketed, distributed and available, for the most part, exclusively on Native lands. They are often connected in name or design to our people as well. This distinction also separates taxing an Indian trader directly from the body of law that the states rely on to interfere with Native commerce. 

At some point someone has to be bold and brave enough to assert our rights specifically and defend Native to Native trade. That didn't quite happen here. While I acknowledge the risks in providing the courts an opportunity create a precedent in ruling against the rights to trade Native to Native and Territory to Territory, I can't ignore the glaring concession made on the state's right to tax sales on Native lands.




Sunday, June 10, 2012

Alright! Time to Call Times Up!

I am absolutely an advocate for diplomacy and meaningful conversations on issues that cause conflict. Real diplomacy requires patience and an acknowledgement that the two parties in a conflict may not have the same priorities or understanding of the problem. Diplomacy is not supposed to be about winners and losers but about mutual respect and coming to a solution that solves the problem, not stamp it out or wait it out.

Back at the beginning of February, I began meeting with the offices of Congressman Brian Higgins and US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. I brought up a law that they both strongly supported and voted for in their respective houses. The Childrens Health Insurance Reauthorization Act or CHIPRA was widely vaulted as only having the upside of helping children. But in a world where no good deed can go unpunished, someone had to be punished. So the good target was cigarette smokers; those dreaded beings that have single-handedly driven up the cost of health care. The feds funded this act by raising the federal excise tax on tobacco products; a carton of cigarettes was raised $6.16. However hidden in the law was a provision to prevent major manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers from stocking up on large amounts of product in advance of the tax increase for sale after the increase; a floor tax.

Native people and Native lands were never mentioned anywhere in this law. We are not mentioned on either the receiving end or the taking end. So when millions of dollars in floor tax assessments from the US Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) began showing up to Native retailers and wholesalers last Christmas for product purchased and sold almost three years prior, we were a little surprised.

In my meetings with the Higgins and Gillibrand people, I asked if they had intended to, for the first time in the history of federal intervention on Native businesses, create a scenario where product purchased and in our possession on our lands would be billed by the TTB for additional monies after-the-fact. The staffers of the representatives said they would have to get back to me on that but expressed a clear understanding of what I was asking and a sense that a mistake had been made. And sure enough after consultation with their legislative specialists in DC, they concurred that the over zealousness of the TTB pursuing these funds was, indeed, "an unintended consequence" of an unclear law and that there was no intent to impose this tax on our lands. So my next obvious question was, "Well, what are you going to do about it?". After 5 months it is obvious that there is no intention to do anything.

Even the limpest promise of a letter of support on the issue was never realized. The most ambitious request I made still really required almost no action on the part of Mr. Higgins or Ms. Gillibrand. I simply wanted their offices to facilitate a meeting with the White House Senior Policy Adviser on Native Affairs so the same question could reach the President. This seemed like a great idea when I mentioned it. After all they had to do almost nothing. My thoughts were that because of the discretion that the taxing agencies can show on issues like this, that a simple phone call from the President could make it go away. But that is when the back pedaling started. After hearing nothing back after repeated calls and emails, I was asked how come the Seneca Nation President, Robert Porter wasn't raising these concerns. The staffers now suggested that involvement from he or the SNI council would be necessary for them to facilitate the meeting or write their letter even though they fully acknowledged from Buffalo to DC that this was all a misunderstanding. So 8 Seneca Nation Councilors joined me in the request, many of whom were committed to making the trip to DC to meet with the White House adviser.

Even with meeting this new requirement, neither Brian Higgins nor Kirsten Gillibrand have shown an ounce of integrity on this issue so diplomacy aside, it's time to call them out. It is also time to call Rob Porter out on this issue as well. For it is he who went before the Senate Finance Committee and never once saw fit to address this affront to Native sovereignty as he promoted his own unauthorized agenda. I believe that it was not just Porter's lack of interest on this issue that Higgins and Gillibrand are using as an excuse to do nothing but his encouragement to do just that: nothing.

This is primarily an issue that impacts the private sector in Native communities. Although the US promotes private sector development everywhere on the planet (especially in communist or socialist countries), that's not the case for Native people and Native lands. This is another area where tribal governments and the feds are clearly on the same page but quite a different page than the one Native people are on. Only "tribal" enterprises are encouraged while the private sector is gutted from prospering or expanding. And the unholy marriage between those successful individual businessmen on Native lands and tribal government has only been made more unholy by bedding with the feds.

So Times Up! Let the hard truth begin to flow until real diplomacy can begin to walk back some of these issues.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Terry Nelson Lays it Down as Canada Attempts to Keep First Nations in Poverty


Injunction Backfires
May 30th 2012

A Manitoba Court granted an injunction sought by the Province of Manitoba against the Dakota Canupawakpa First Nation operating the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop. Terrance Nelson, a former Chief of Roseau River First Nation who sold untaxed cigarettes twenty years ago stated, the province has just lost this case, over 50 First Nations in Manitoba worked with the province on Tobacco Tax Rebates for two decades, now that is destroyed by this case. Some of my Mohawk friends in the manufacturing of cigarettes agreed to support the Dakota in their battle with the Province. I will also step into this matter. The Dakota have 90% unemployment and we as warrior societies will protect them. We will begin by flooding the province with Mohawk cigarettes.  

If the province thinks that they won something today, they are wrong. If the RCMP create a "martyr" and blood is shed, we can guarantee that the entire First Nation communities across Canada will take action. We will shut down the economy of Canada if the RCMP kill a Dakota in this. This is an issue of regulation between governments not a criminal matter.. Imagine if we as indigenous people of North America went to Germany and took over their lands and resources and we set up a government that demands that the German people pay taxes to us and that government is not their own, what do you think that their reaction would be. I think once they stopped laughing at how absurd that idea is, they would kill us. Not only have the immigrants stolen all our lands and resources, they now demand that we the indigenous people pay taxes to them. This ends here, we need to stop the immigrants from their self serving imposed laws in our lands.

Chief Frank Brown was one of four people who attended the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa recently and is awaiting an invitation from the Iranian Government to attend Tehran sometime in June. This is about economic sanctions and we will seek support from other countries. Terrance Nelson said, I intend to give a bow to the President of Iran, the symbol is that the indigenous people of North American used stone age weapons to fight for their lands against the "crusaders", now Iran is being told they cannot defend themselves against the nuclear nations. So Israel can train over 100 nuclear weapons against Iran but Iran cannot have even one nuclear bomb to defend themselves. The United Nations is not impartial, it does not demand to search for weapons of mass destruction in Israel. In Wounded Knee South Dakota in 1890, the US 7th Cavalry killed 350 Dakota men women and children after they had stripped the Dakota of all weapons and had them lined up. This is the same concept, the Iranians are being told that they must face nuclear weapons targeting their people but they cannot develop any ability to have equal weaponry.

Terrance Nelson
204-451-0740

Chief Frank Brown can be reached at 204-851-2169

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enough with the BS. Let's Talk About the Real Issue.

For weeks we have heard nothing but the UN this and the UN that; the DRIP, the "Special Rapporteur", the Permanent Forum. All for what? So we finally can have our issues, Native issues, heard by the WORLD, the international community, responsible nations. And what do we talk about? Access to sacred sites, a 500 year old decree by the Vatican and, of course, treaties.

So even while the dust was settling from all this running around to DC, NYC and elsewhere, who was knocking on our doors? The IRS. It seems the illegal imposition of taxation, travel restrictions, use of roadways and anything else the the state and feds can throw at us to kill any chance for an economy didn't make the cut when we had the "World Stage". Even the much exalted chiefs councils of Onondaga and Tonawanda got served by the IRS.

A couple of years ago when the State Department was holding its "Consultations" on rethinking the US support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples(DRIP), I turned to the audience in the auditorium of the National Museum of the American Indian, putting my back to the stage full of federal agency representatives and asked the room full of mostly tribal government employees why is it that they work for their own nations on their own lands yet pay a tax on their wage to another nation. In that session, I was they only one addressing US interference in Native trade and commerce as.

The single biggest problem on Native lands is poverty! All social ills come back to this. Can some of it be traced to the Discovery Doctrine or other means of stealing our lands? Sure. But today's genocidal policies are specifically about denying our own economic development. Taxation and the constant assault and/or interference with our right to freely sell our labor, goods and services is at its core. Every town, county, state and nation of the world markets its regulatory advantages to promote its economy, yet ours is criminalized. Even Native to Native trade, from one Native territory to another is under constant attack.

For anyone that would suggest; yeah, but at least we got casinos. Well let's look at that. When California failed in its attempt to shut down a small Native community's bingo hall in the Cabazon case before the US Supreme Court in 1987, what happened was a scramble by Congress to shove a law down the throats of the "federally recognized tribes" that placed both the states and feds squarely in the middle of the Golden Goose of "Indian Country" within the year. So the ONLY regulatory advantage that can be exploited is the one regulated through federally mandated gaming compacts with the states under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which all too often has the states scooping large percentages from the till. Hell, even pull-tabs had federal agents snooping around on our lands under the authority of IGRA.

In spite of the President of the Seneca Nation's plea to the US Senate Finance Committee this week for tax reform or for an "experiment" in tax immunity, we do not need a Congress that does not represent us to change its tax laws that never should be applied to us to be rewritten to help us. We also do not need, as Mr. Porter suggested, for "federal Indian policy" to secure exclusive authority over all economic activity on Native lands to tribal governments as a matter of federal law. As a people who would never convey such authority to anyone, we view the right to sustain ourselves as our birthright. Mr. Porter must have forgotten that legitimate governments derive what authority they do have only from the consent of the governed, not from his idols in Washington. The people's authority to regulate their own economies is also the authority not to. It seems the concept of freedom without chaos has become almost forgotten, even by those who descended from those that taught the concept to the white man.

We don't need reparations, compensation, cash settlements, acts of Congress or rulings from a far too politicized Supreme Court. We need to have our trade, commerce and livelihoods left alone. The message the world should have heard from us over the last several weeks should have been some simple instructions to the most self righteous and hypocritical bastion of freedom and human rights: Stop your attempts to assess and collect tax, stop your seizures of our products, get out of our casinos, leave our paychecks alone, stop interfering with Native to Native trade and watch freedom work. Maybe something will be learned again. Or is that what everyone is afraid of?

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's Time to Stop Asking Everyone to "Honor Indian Treaties" and Start Demanding Legal Standing


Porter Asks UN To Honor Sovereign Rights


Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2012 9:50 am


The Seneca Nation of Indians took its case for honoring Native American rights to an international stage this week.
With a small delegation of officials from other tribes, Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca president, spoke to the United Nations Special Rapporteur Wednesday in Washington D.C. Specifically, the tribal leaders met with Rapporteur representative James Anaya on his first official visit the United States.
During the meeting, President Porter told of instances in the Seneca’s history when the tribe’s sovereignty was infringed upon and treaty rights were ignored by state and federal authorities.
“The treaty commitments that were made by the United States are still valid today — the treaty violations therefore must be addressed in meaningful and substantive ways,” President Porter said in a press release. “We can no longer abide the federal government’s track record of treaty abrogation and the path of destruction that has mangled Native lands, resources, and communities.

My Response
It is not a question of asking the international community to honor or recognize Native sovereignty. The question is where, when and how was there ever a legal or internationally recognizable transfer of our sovereignty to the US, Canada or anyone else. If we start with the premise that our sovereignty WAS recognized, the only way it could not STILL be is that if there was some legal act of subjugation. Let the US or Canada produce their treaty that establishes that transfer of authority. Our sovereignty is NOT a treaty right and it was not surrendered in one either.

This isn't about a broken promise. We aren't jilted lovers. We are not begging for the international community to respect us or feel sorry for us. Our sovereignty is an internationally recognized authority to "carry ourselves". We aren't asking a favor of the world. It is the legal and moral obligation of other nations to acknowledge that America's "Final Solution" has failed. We are still here and although it is argued that some of our distinction has faded (and how could it not have in light of US and Canadian policies?), our sovereign birthright has not.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Acquiescence and Complicity

The question is: when does the former become the latter? Should silence on an issue ever be interpreted as acceptance or, worse yet, approval? Well, whether it should be matters little; it is. By definition "to acquiesce" is to consent or concur quietly or passively. To acquiesce is to comply. If silence on an issue, especially issues of grave concern to a community, is not to be regarded as broad acceptance of societal ills in our territories, how do we change the message of silence or stop the passive approval?
In the video poem by the 1491's, "To The Indigenous Women", Ryan Red Corn prays for enough light to show what we truly are, regarding violence against our women; Complicit! When we make excuses for rape or blame the victim, when we coddle bad behavior in our men; young or old, or when we simply remain silent or fail to ever even acknowledge it, we don't just let those performing these criminal acts off the hook, we condone them.
Ryan's words raised the whole issue of silence for me, not just on the issue of violence against women but on drugs, alcohol, parenting, fidelity, respect. How complicit have we been in bad government, corruption, loss of our lands and the selling out of our birthright? Perhaps silence is our enemy. Perhaps, like all these other things, silence too can no longer be tolerated.
Let's not confuse speaking out and speaking up with bitching. Blogs and social networks are not the places to hold people accountable. It starts with holding ourselves accountable. Are we prepared to take an uncomfortable stand against our friends and relatives when we know they are hurting others with their actions? Are we prepared to no longer welcome the abuser, the dealer, the thief into our homes? Are we prepared to give ultimatums to to those around us who violate the rights of others and genuinely make those that lose our respect, earn it back? And earn it back from all of us.
How is it we let the man on his third family sit in a position of respect? How do we let drunks and deviants sit on councils; Handsome Lake was still a full fledged drunk when he signed the precious Treaty of Canandaigua, years before his "visions". And that "tradition" continues today. We elect, select, appoint and even condole those we know we should have spoken up about when they committed unacceptable acts.
We remain silent as the State and feds attempt to assimilate us; Thomas Indian School operated for over 100 years. The US Senate "Declared" us all US citizens in 1924 while we declared nothing, we said nothing and we still say nothing. How many will stand and say, "I reject the imposition of US citizenship"? Or do we quietly try to have it both ways?
There comes a time for all of us when silence is all we'll have. We will join generations of our ancestors in silence. Too many of them acquiesced to injustices as well. While we still have our fires and our voices, it is not just the right thing to do, it is our obligation to speak out and speak up. We don't need a code of conduct or some set of puritan standards to guide us. Our birthright grants us freedom and liberty; we only need to be vigilant to ensure that the right to good and safe lives for our children, our women, our families and our communities are not infringed upon from within or from anyone.
Speak up! Don't be complicit!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Enhanced Tribal Cards; The New Path to Citizenship

I warned about the US using their, post 9-11 developed, Department of Homeland Security to subjugate Native people. Well, here is part of the plan. To get a new "Enhanced Tribal Card"(ETC) from participating tribal governments, proof of US or Canadian citizenship are required and the resultant card becomes a declaration of that citizenship; emblazoned with flags and everything.

The Department of Homeland Security(DHS) developed requirements for new travel documents under their Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative(WHTI or as I prefer, WHITIE). The new "tribal" cards are WHITIE compliant and provide the US with all the necessary tools for tracking movement, building better files on individuals and provide the added benefit of coercing Native people into accepting the will of the genocidal societies around them.
The treachery in all this is that there is an attempt at selling these cards as some sort of expression of sovereignty; like the federal government respects us so much that they will honor "our" tribal ID's. Let's be clear here; these are US government ID's, DHS ID's, WHITIE Cards. Just because tribal logos are added, or the tribal clerk issues them, or the tribe is complicit in providing them or covering part of their costs does not change the fact that every feature is federally mandated.

The photos must be compatible with the facial recognition programs employed by the feds. There must be a scannable bar code for US government agency scanners to retrieve identification data. Each card will have an RFID chip embedded which can broadcast ID data up to 30 feet to automated receiving stations without ever needing to hand your card to anyone. And every time this card is seen, scanned or transmits its presence another data point gets added to the system.
If all this information technology seems like an invasion of privacy or a violation of Native sovereignty, relax. By getting one of these ETC's you already declared yourself to be one of them.

One question: where were all those tribal leaders fighting for our right to travel our homeland, our right to maintain our distinction? Perhaps if we stop with all this "tribe" bullshit we could get our heads straight. I am not a "tribesman". I am not a member of a "tribe". I have no "tribal leader", "tribal card", "tribal rights" or "tribal customs". I am Ohnkwe Ohnwe: a real human being; forever in my past and forever in my future, with both connected.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Two Big Changes Coming to "Let's Talk Native..."

I am in the process of transitioning from a one hour show to a two hour format for Western New York's only Native radio talk show and, perhaps, the only show of its kind anywhere. We are just finalizing the new expanded time slot for 9-11pm Sunday nights. LTN will also start streaming live on line. This week will be our first test run with the streaming where we will officially be live to a world-wide audience. The great part is that even if only a portion of the live show is caught, listeners can always come back to catch what they missed afterwards. The show will also be a true podcast as well. I apologize in advance for any confusion or technical difficulties that may arise during our expansion and upgrades. We will make the media player and/or link to the live stream available on Native Pride, the LTN page on KB1520.com and on the LTN Facebook group page. Look for the two hour edition of LTN to begin April 8th, but look for our web streaming this week and every week as well as our 50,000 watt AM signal.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Need to Turn the Tables on the State and Feds

Although I have said it before, let me start this rant by making one thing perfectly clear: Our sovereignty was not given to us by a white man, another country, a treaty or God. It was not "purchased" with our land and it cannot be legislated away or ruled away by white men in black robes. Our sovereignty exists because we are a distinct people with land, history and a culture all our own.

While clearly much of that distinction has faded over the last several hundred years, that does not diminish our birthright. The recognition of that birthright is clear. The entire early history of the United States is an analysis and study of a people who lived the concept that sovereignty is not God given to a royal family but is a birthright and a part of the laws of nature and creation. The concept of an inalienable right and that certain rights are natural and that to deny those rights is unnatural and defies creation came from us. This is the concept that went into developing the US republic. Even nations who would never grasp these ideas, recognized our distinction and our sovereignty. No one, until recently ever tried that bullshit "Christian Discovery Doctrine" lie on us. All those Christian nations knew better. They treated, begged and grovelled long before they lied, cheated, defrauded or ever dared to fight our people. The problem with all those that would like to pretend our sovereignty does not exist today, is that they can't pretend that it never existed.

And this is where any legitimate claim against our sovereignty or over jurisdiction falls apart. Even with some of our distinction fading over the years, if there has never been a legal and recognized transfer of our sovereignty, if we have never signed terms of surrender or in any other way agreed to subjugation, then there can be no claim of such. The US Congress can declare us their citizens till they are blue in the face, the US Supreme Court can write opinion after opinion about quasi-sovereigns or domestic dependent nations. They can claim in even more opinions that their congress has plenary powers over us. These aren't even rulings; they're opinions. Just because a white man in a black robe offers this opinion as a lame excuse for making bad rulings, does not make it so.

In our culture only the individual can give up his birthright. It is not legal in our way to sell out our children. For those who have never quite understood the concept of looking out for the seven generations, I suggest they do some soul searching. I have news for you; they know it is all a house of cards as well.

Consider the concept of making a "treaty argument" in our rejection of their jurisdictional claims or our defense against the general application of their laws on our lands against our people. It is absurd to be sucked into a circumstance where WE are trying to prove that our sovereignty exists, or to what extent it exists or that we have this right or that right by treaty. We must place the burden on THEM to prove that subjugation. Let THEM produce a treaty that gives them these powers over us. Don't feed me this bullshit about "rule of law" when you just make this stuff up as you go along! We don't have nor do we need a "treaty argument" to establish our sovereignty or our "rights". The "treaties" gave us nothing. Some of them may have acknowledged certain already undeniable facts but they "granted" us nothing.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Feds Try to Make an Example of the Tonawanda Senecas

On Thursday morning, February 23, at approximately 9 am, almost 100 federal agents raided four retail establishments on the Territory of the Tonawanda Senecas. The federal agents were armed with assault rifles and hand guns and represented the Department of Homeland Security(DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms(ATF), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs(BIA).
The warrants "authorizing" the armed invasion by federal authorities into the sovereign lands of the Tonawanda Senecas listed three specific product areas as the focus for search and seizure. No arrests were made and the speed and precision of the raid had agents in and out before the community could respond.
A product marketed as incense but is regarded as "fake weed", because its producers attempt to skirt the state and federal definitions of a controlled substance is the most sensational of those product areas. These products also known as "Spice" or "K2" are widely available at dozens of non-native retail establishments throughout Western New York. It is actually distributed by New York licensed wholesalers.
Another product area that was targeted were counterfeit or "knock-off" designer products such as purses, clothing or jewelry. These are the items sold by thousands of flea market vendors or street vendors in any populated area including New York City.
The final reason listed for the this vulgar display of threat and intimidation is cigarettes. Along with many brands of federally compliant tobacco products, many Native retailers carry cigarettes that are not produced with permits from the federal government. The products are produced by Native people on Native lands and are often retailed within the same community where they are manufactured. Some are branded and others are sold as a generic cigarette in bags rather than cartons. To the extent that these products are not retailed within the territories where they're produced, they are distributed as a form of Native to Native trade.
If this last target seems different from the first two because of its unique availability; know this: many retailers in many states now advertise the sale of non regulated cigarettes. Non-native shops even in Western New York allow consumers to walk into their store place an order and walk out with non federally regulated cigarettes. They will simply manufacture them while you wait and you can call them "roll your own". Yes it is true that a $30 carton of cigarettes still can be purchased in Western New York without having to travel to a Native territory; just search "head shops" and while you are there you can buy all the "fake weed" you like. No armed agents, no surveillance, no problem.
Make no mistake about this act of aggression. Its purpose is to harm Native people. The weapons were primarily to cause psychological harm; the bullets were to kill. The effort is just another in a long line of attempts to subjugate Native people. Killing the tiny private sector economies of Native lands is a federal policy. Always has been. Treating our people like criminals after stretching state and federal laws just far enough (or in these cases, simply misrepresenting the same) to criminalize our commerce is also federal policy. Nothing was confiscated here that couldn't have been seized from dozens of non-native retailers in Western New York alone. This was not about the "products". The feds know who produces and distributes these life threatening purses and incense. This was about singling out Native people for an act of pure aggression.
If it has never quite been made clear before, let's be clear here; The federal government, and the states as well, have no problem with our commerce as long as we are only consumers. They are even willing to look the other way on whether we pay taxes; again I'm talking about on our purchases. It is sales that the the feds and states want to kill. They don't want us selling anything to generate an economy. They don't want us selling our labor, our crops, our game, our art, our natural resources, our manufactured goods; nothing,,,unless they can tax it. And by tax it, I mean to tax it high enough to kill the sale.
There is one thing they have always wanted us to sell. They never worried about taxing this sale. They never worried about whether the sale was fair or legal. They never worried about the terms or how much boozed or how many guns or troops were used to coerce the sale. The only thing the state and federal government ever wanted us to sell and remains the object of their policies is our mother; our land. Everyone of these pieces of legislation, whether it is at the state or federal level, is designed to wipeout the distinction of our people and, more importantly, our land.