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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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

False Prophets Looking for Large Profits

On June 1st I warned in my first post on the border guard incident in Akwesasne about false prophets and bogus leaders using the issue to further their causes. I reiterated my concerns on my June 24th post. Today I must again address this concern.
What ever this new group of Meredith Quinn/Lester Howse/Kenny Kapplemier/Larry Thompson/Donny Smoke followers call themselves, I wish they would formally distinguish themselves and just renounce themselves as Mohawks. They hint at it. They condemn the Kaianerehkowa. They play all kinds of semantics and prey on the ignorance of others, yet they insist on using the people of Akwesasne, the Kanienkehaka, to build a foundation for their new religion/history/cult/scam. They come in and out of Longhouses, that they don't believe in. They participate in meetings with "other Mohawk leaders", although they no longer consider themselves Mohawks. They seem to have taken over the Akwesasne Women's Fire website with full coverage of the Larry Thompson Show. The buzz is that they plan to use the the history of Mohawk resistance to suck money out of Momar Khadafi and other American haters. What is the end game? Who knows! I, like many, simply want to just ignore all this nonsense. But opportunists like these use events like the Kawehnoke issue to confuse and undermine the will of the people. Most of us are just plain embarrassed by the ramblings and antics of these guys. The problem is that when the patients take over the asylum it comes to a point where it is hard to tell the mad scientist from the mad men and the mad men from the mindless. Someone is behind all this and who ever it is has a purpose. No, it isn't enlightenment or eternal life. It is something much easier to grasp; $. Most of us have gotten used to looking the other way while our neighbors figured out the next get rich quick scheme. This time it is different. This time it isn't about selling out your own ethics or morality; or jeopardizing your own freedom or security. This time it is about selling out our identity. There are plenty of non-natives looking for a group of "onkweohnwe" to deny everything we have ever stood for; sovereignty, freedom, ties to our land, stewards of that land, government by the people, equality, inherent rights, natural law and our connectedness to creation. These prophets of the camel's eye are just what the doctor ordered for all those that would do us harm. A few corrupt, well spoken men can easily find those weakened by years of alcohol and drug abuse, desperate for something to believe in, abused or abandoned as kids, hooked on easy money and disgruntled because no one has ever done anything for them. This isn't the first attempt at this for some of these guys. After making millions and establishing themselves as the envy of others, ruling over them becomes the next brass ring to grab. These guys have worked in and out of every court system, every political system, every religion and every movement, but never once learning about who they were. It is no wonder that they are drawn to the Egyptians. In our way there is no hierarchy. These guys admire the pyramid; the symbol of wealth and power.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Bridges Reopen

After five hours of conflicting reports on just who caused the bridges to be closed, US and Canadian authorities reopened access to the international bridges that cross through the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. Whether the fines and vehicle seizures will continue for those Mohawks that refuse to report their travel to their own community is as unclear as the disruption in the first place. What is clear is that this conflict is far from over.

Confusing the issue is the role that tribal and band councils play in situations like this. With their existence being owed almost entirely to the US and Canadian governments, the question arises on whose interests are they working. Do they honestly place as their highest priority on the will of the people when less than 5% of the people participate in their elections? These administrations serve more as the old Indian Agents than a functioning government. The Saint Regis tribal council is in the process of developing "tribal ID's" that are compliant with the US Department of Homeland Security. The MCA already uses INAC cards that will also be compliant with the DHS Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. So in short, the tribal and band councils now play the role of issuing US and Canadian ID cards under the ruse that they are tribal ID's. It is unfortunate that the Mohawk people when standing up against oppression from the outside, find themselves standing against their so-called "elected officials". Millions of dollars flow into these administrations, either directly from outside governments or indirectly through enterprises, such as casinos that exist in partnership and regulated by the state. Unfortunate or not, the people need to keep an arms length (at least) to these Indian Agents, remembering who they work for and who pays their salaries.

To put this "border" issue into perspective it is important to note that Canada claims other areas of Akwesasne are theirs as well. Both the areas known as St. Regis and Snye (as well as several other islands) are allegedly north of the imaginary line yet no reporting to Canadian Border Services has ever been required or enforced. It is only Kawenoke, which is know as Cornwall Island that has been placed under this restriction. Kawenoke is Mohawk land; territory of the Kanienkehaka, as is all of Akwesasne. It is not MCA land or Saint Regis land and it is not Canada.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bridges Are Closed Again In Akwesasne

After a two month concession to the will of the Mohawk People the border crossing through Akwesasne is closed again. After the funeral of an elder back in July, the US Customs could no longer claim that they had to close the US side as a matter of international protocol after the Canadian Border Service abandoned their post on Mohawk land. Some behind the scenes waterboarding finally convinced Canadian Border Services to end the nonsense. So they set up a border station on the City of Cornwall side of the river, off the Akwesasne island of Kawenoke. The face-saving catch was that everyone who was only going to Kawenoke was told to proceed all the way on and off the island into the city of Cornwall, report and then return to Kawenoke. Of course, the absurdity of this condition was not missed by the Mohawk people and thus the "new rule" was neither taken seriously nor followed. So now after two months of noncompliance to these morons and their new rule, the Canadian officials began a new push on the people of Akwesasne. A few days ago it was announced that people who entered Kawenoke from the Southern bridge that refused to proceed directly off the island over the Northern bridge into the City of Cornwall to report to Canadian Border Services that they in fact had no desire to enter into Canada but were only going to Kawenoke, would be charged with unlawful entry and have their vehicle seized. Yesterday the seizures started. After a half dozen or so vehicles were seized tensions were growing. Today both the Southern and Northern bridges to the Mohawk island are closed by US and Canadian law enforcement. Keep in mind this all stems from the Mohawk people refusing to allow the Canadian Border Services to establish a permanent armed presence on Mohawk land. Apparently, the Department of Homeland Security and the Canadian Border Service felt that two months of summer travel was enough to quiet the complainers in the City of Cornwall crying about the economic impact of the bridge closure. Or perhaps Albany's share of the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino met its milestone for the quarter. Whatever the case, it is clear that the squeeze on the Mohawk people is not over.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Seneca Nation Formally Submits to DHS Pressure on ID's

Well, it is confirmed! The Seneca Nation of Indians has formally announced its plans to develop a Department of Homeland Security compliant Enhanced Tribal Card. They even give it its own set of initials like FBI, DHS, BIA and IOU. They are called, what else, ETC's. Sorry Scott, your Dad didn't tell you the whole truth. He didn't just agree to add an expiration date. No, these cards will be scannable, have digitized photos with specific biometric coded measurements and have RFID chips (see the link to RFID Chips on the side bar at "What They Say"). This way your identification can and will be broadcast to check points, police or any other receiver devices the state/provincial and federal governments decide to use and install. Oh yeah, they will also have expiration dates on them.
For those of you that say, "So what? What do I have to hide? I don't care if I am tracked and identified where ever I go", the best is yet to come. The final requirement of the DHS for a Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) compliant ETC is a declaration of citizenship. No, we aren't talking about Seneca Nation citizenship. This is it; once and for all. Are you an American or a Canadian? This time the Seneca Nation is overtly complicit with US and Canadian officials in this game of assimilation and semantics. Of course, no one is forced to get these cards, only those that may want to cross that border that was never intended for us (...for now). Ironically, the Seneca Nation of Indians can't afford to issue these cards so to add insult to injury, the Seneca Indians will have to pay individually for the right to comply with the feds and obtain their own ETC.
So let's hear it for those defenders of Sovereignty and Native rights. If you are not a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, fear not. The Saint Regis Indians, the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and the Haudenosaune (otherwise known as Onondaga, et al) are right in line (as well as every other federally recognized tribe). And guess what? You get to have your "Nation's" logo on the card (maybe even your Indian name). No one will ever know you finally declared your subjugation to your oppressors. Hell, you won't even have to show the card. It will transmit who and what you are from your pocket.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Reprint of an April 2009 Post

The case referred to here was opposed at a public meeting but filed anyway on August 5, 2009. A look back at this post is relevant in light of the lust for a Sullivan County casino.

Although there is much that will remained unanswered here, we now have a better understanding of what makes up some of the beliefs of a Saint Regis Indian.
Some of the things we don't know include; who are the Saint Regis Indians, when did they come into existence and just who are the Seven Nations of Canada that these Saint Regis Indians owe some element of their existence to?
Based on a civil action that these Saint Regis Indians, also known as the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT), plan to file in US Federal Court and statements made in a public meeting to discuss this filing, we now know things that were perhaps not understood about these people before.
This is what is learned from the draft of a planned civil action by the SRMT:
The SRMT derives its authority from the US Federal government as a federally recognized Indian tribe. The SRMT believes that "the exercise of jurisdiction within an Indian reservation in New York is exclusively governed by federal law". The SRMT believes that an Indian reservation was established for the use of the Indians of the Village of Saint Regis in 1796 by an agreement between New York State and Seven Nations of Canada. The SRMT believes that New York State made this agreement "In an effort to set aside land for the Mohawks that would be federally protected from encroachment". At some point that is not clear in this filing, the SRMT believes that this "reservation" became the "federal reservation" of the SRMT. The SRMT believes that the US Constitution provides them with the right to bring this action and that United States District Court for the Northern District of New York has jurisdiction because "the Tribe's reservation is located in that District". The SRMT also believes that the "Tribe's reservation" is in New York State's Franklin and St Lawrence Counties and that land that was attempted to be carved out of the interior of the "reservation" by the State is part of the Town of Bombay. The SRMT believes that the Congress of the United States has never "enacted any law or statute or taken any other action to diminish the Tribe's reservation." The SRMT wants a federal judge to declare "that the jurisdiction of the Tribe, the State and the local governments within the Hogansburg Triangle(land within the "Tribe's reservation") is governed by federal law". Although they ask for a "grant of such other relief as the court may deem just and proper", one can't help wonder why they didn't ask for recovery of the taxes they paid in the purchases they made for property in the "Hogansburg Triangle".
In the public meeting to discuss the filing of this case it was also learned that SRMT and its legal counsel believes that it is unlawful for Native retailers to sell products to non-natives without collecting tax for the state. This begs the questions about the SRMT's involvement in this unlawful activity. We also learned that the SRMT believes that the only thing that keeps the State or its counties from siezing land in Akwesasne for taxes is a "gentleman's agreement" that the "Tribe" has with them not to do so.
It must be noted that in spite of the addition of the word "Mohawk" to the name of the Saint Regis Indians, there is no claim in this filing that the SRMT is or represents the Mohawk Nation, the Mohawk People or the Kanienkehaka or is a part of the Six Nations, Iroquois Confederacy or the Haudenosaune. On a historical note there is also no mention of any of these entities in the agreement of 1796 cited in the filing nor is there an established connection between these and the so-called Seven Nations of Canada. A reason for this may be because a federal court ruled in a previous attempt by the SRMT to use the court that Saint Regis Indians are not recognized as Mohawks and cannot use a connection to the Mohawk Nation or the Six Nations for their defense. On this one point many Kanienkehaka can agree with the findings of a federal court.
This civil action planned by the SRMT is a land claim. As can be clearly noted from previous posts on Native Pride, this is not "Land Claims; Mohawk Style". Within the lines delineating New York State, not one acre of land has ever been reacquired in a federal court or a court filed land claim. Only Ganienke and the recent reclamation in Akwesasne have resulted in the return of lost land to the people.
This post comes a long way from defining what a Saint Regis Indian is, but it should be clear that Saint Regis Indians are not Mohawks. They are, apparently, Americans; something a Mohawk would never claim.

Saint Regis Tribe Trying to Sell Out The Mohawk People...Again

North Country Public Radio, September 1, 2009
Last year, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-natives buy cigarettes at native-owned stores. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But like his three predecessors, Paterson’s administration said last week it will not try to collect the taxes. Remember when the Seneca Nation burned tires on the Thruway when then-Governor George Pataki tried to collect them? The whole issue is knotted up in lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe. Two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the now cloudy case of tobacco taxes and native tribes. Jim Ransom says there’s an easy solution – sit down and talk. Ransom is chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. The Mohawks are at odds with New York State over three issues – the cigarette taxes, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills. Ransom says one agreement can resolve them all.

That giant sucking sound is the State and federal government sucking on Ransom hoping the load he drops has the last remnants of Mohawk sovereignty neatly within it. The short-term instant gratification will be the Tribe's credit for putting a Casino in the Catskills. Ransom says he doesn't understand all the fuss over taxing the Mohawk people and Mohawk land claims. A Saint Regis Casino in the Catskills can fix it all. He brags about how successful the Tribe has been in meeting the demands of the State in the past. Joseph Brant would be proud. This will be the greatest sellout of the Mohawk People since he sold 9 million acres of Mohawk land for $1500. The beauty of this deception is that Brant had no more authority to claim to represent the Mohawk Nation than Ransom does. The last time the Saint Regis Tribe tried to claim to be the Mohawk Nation using a handful of Six Nation treaties to defend themselves, a federal court slapped them in the mouth and ruled against them, stating for the record that they were not Mohawks, but rather Saint Regis Indians. Perhaps Ransom will get his image carved into the White man's history, monuments and buildings just as Brant did.