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, March 11, 2014

"Sovereignty is not our Defense. It's what we Defend!"

On my "Let's Talk Native..." radio show on Sunday, March 9, I announced my new campaign. No, I am not running for office. My campaign is about truth telling and clearing away false assumptions about what the United States and Canada believe they have reduced us to — namely, their subjects.

In spite of the lop-sided "deals" and, more often than not, fraudulent acts committed by Europeans and their descendants to gain access to the lands of our children, the characterization that we are dependent on them is false. The very existence of the U.S. and Canada depends on their claim to a land base. The fact of the matter is that they are completely dependent on lands that we allowed them to occupy — but that occupation was and is conditional. And neither of these "colonies" has been released from the debt of those conditions.

In the egotistical view of Christian Europeans, the Earth was created to be subdued and owned by man. With that assumption and with their own view of such things, treaties were entered into with a people who by and large were willing to help a poor and wretched class of humans that washed up on their shores. In later years, these white men, cloaked in their religion, would attempt to claim certain ownership of lands under decrees of their church and the tenets of the Doctrine of Christian Discovery. But in spite of the U.S. Supreme Court's attempt to codify this racist and unlawful policy that literally says a Christian people can just claim ownership of the lands of pagans, the early American leaders crafted law after law acknowledging Native lands and our exclusive ownership of those lands as well as the distinction of our autonomy and sovereignty.

There is no reconciling on the attempt by the U.S. or Canada to create some uniform body of "federal Indian law" with the realities of their own inconsistencies, ambiguities and outright lies. The crumbling foundation of the concept of federal Indian law is built upon religious and racist dogma addressed in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as follows:

 "all doctrines, policies and practices based on or advocating superiority of peoples or individuals on the basis of national origin or racial, religious, ethnic or cultural differences are racist, scientifically false, legally invalid, morally condemnable and socially unjust."

We are not wards of the state. The U.S. and Canada are not our custodians, our guardians, our trustees or our superiors.

Those who choose to be victims of the American genocide are certainly free to do so and the U.S. and Canada are happy to oblige. But for those of us who continue to not just survive but actually fight back, we do so to affect change and not just to find a kinder and gentler master. We fight and defend our sovereignty for our children and those unborn faces to come and also to transform those victims among us into survivors.

As I spend the next several months exposing the absurdity of state, U.S. federal, provincial and Canadian federal policies and showing how these policies are born out of blatant racism with a clear objective to eliminate our claim to distinction and autonomy, I ask that others join me to advance this campaign.

My goal in defending our sovereignty is to turn the tables on those who attempt to criminalize us or assert unlawful controls over us. Let them produce their documents defending their positions. Name the event that transferred our sovereignty to them. Give us a date, a time and a place. When and where was our consent given to their governments "instituted amongst Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed?" When did we concede to subjugation?

Even the self-righteousness of the U.S. and Canada cannot give them the right to legislate or adjudicate away the sovereignty of another people. It's fine to cry "rule of law" with mouse eyes but we have been watching with the eyes of the eagle from a thousand feet in the air. We see where justice stops and where law is used as a tool or a weapon against us and others. If man's laws are needed at all, they need to be built on a foundation of truth and integrity and must be just to be valid.

When New York State claims our trade must abide by their laws with no legal basis for making such claim and when the U.S. Treasury Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms sends armed and masked agents into our lands to bolster the State's claim, this is not justice. This is not rule of law. This is manipulation of law. This is secret oppression — undeclared policy.

It has been almost three years since two New York State Senators (Senators George Maziarz and Timothy Kennedy) asked the Commissioner of New York State's Department of Taxation and Finance to disclose and provide in writing what the State's policy was on Native-manufactured goods and Native-to-Native trade. Commissioner Thomas Mattox has refused to accommodate this request even as the New York State Attorney General pursues lawsuits against Native manufacturers. These are not the actions of governments and agencies demonstrating just powers. These actions are political and discriminatory, and based on policies hidden from the view of those affected, their own citizens and their own lawmakers. 

Hold on. It is going to get nasty around here. This ends only one way — with our sovereignty intact!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Economy? We Don't Need No Stinking Economy!

I haven't weighed in much on Canada's Bill C-10 issues but in the overall scheme of things it is no different than any of the others on the long list of anti-Native laws, regulations and policies that Canada and the U.S. have attempted to impose on our people and lands for centuries and, of course, this includes their provinces and states, as well. It all boils down to an attempt to control, marginalize and criminalize our people.

It is particularly ironic that participation in a trade industry that has been ours for thousands of years — actually introduced to their ancestors by our ancestors — has been under attack since the moment we began realizing any significant economic gain from it. But the attempt by the U.S. and Canada to deny this inherent right is not the only egregious act by two of the world's biggest hypocrite nations.

Kidnapper, hostage holder and pedophile John Rolfe (d. 1622) of Pocahontas fame took the first steps to bastardize our tobacco by commercializing the product for the European market. Philip Morris, Lorillard, R.J. Reynolds and others finished the job by turning tobacco into nicotine delivery systems praying on chemical addiction for market security. Governments and government officials raked in billions with taxes, fees, surcharges, settlements, political contributions, tobacco lobby perks and campaign contributions. Lawyers saw the same; and both tobacco and anti-tobacco lawyers got rich and famous. And while all this money was being spread, Big Tobacco continued cranking out cigarettes. These guys played every angle possible to keep up demand, supply and distribution. They even courted small, almost insignificant Native smoke shops and the low or no-tax environments we operate in. Anything for sales. But that all changed.

Soon the unholy marriage between Big Tobacco and small Native smoke shops bore an offspring that would destroy the bliss — Native-manufactured brands and products. Soon the very companies that used our people to skirt state and provincial law were writing the federal legislation to snuff us out of the business.

Now don't get me wrong, even with Big Tobacco kind of in our corner the U.S. and Canadian governments were hell bent on not letting us build an economy on this or anything else. A few Big Tobacco executives even got prosecuted for bending rules and breaking laws in dealing with the "illicit reservation tobacco trade." But once these guys lined up with the top cops it didn't matter where tobacco originally came from since Team USA and Team Canada were going lie, cheat and steal to keep us out of the game. We were now terrorists or at very least funding them. What ensued were stings, seizures and set-ups of all kinds, including creating sell-outs among Native businessmen and in tribal councils.

But our shops continue to operate and Native brands and Native-produced generics continue to roll off our shelves. Criminalizing our businesses has not stopped them. It has just made it easier to call us criminals.

And while the tobacco sideshow keeps everyone distracted, Canada and the U.S. eye what's left of our lands and resources all the while calculating how they might separate us from both. Even as most territories wallow in poverty and the majority of Native people live ghetto lives in the cities where they have been removed, coal, gas, oil and tar are raped from our lands leaving destruction that would make George Washington and John Sullivan proud. While people freeze to death in their homes due to the very extreme weather caused by the world's "fat takers," diamonds, minerals, lumber, water and energy resources are stripped from our lands leaving wastelands behind as well as cancer, tainted fish and wildlife, polluted water and a stench in the air. And this while poison seeps out of our own Mother in radioactivity and other seen and unseen dangers.

Almost no economic benefit ever makes it back to the people from all this exploitation and the little that does only seems to validate or encourage the practice. More jobs are created for cleanup of the inevitable disasters associated with raping the planet. But, of course, real cleanup is impossible. The fact of the matter is that Americans and Canadians are neither the users of these energy resources nor are they beneficiaries of their revenue either — except those Americans and Canadians that pocket the money on the sales to China. The U.S. broke records last month exporting more than a billion gallons of crude and petroleum products in a single week ending on February 21. So all the hype about domestic supply and energy security is as big a lie as the whole "Tobacco and Terrorism" scam.

China has invested billions of dollars into the tar sands oil extraction in Alberta and it's not to build a better Canada. It is to pull billions and billions of dollars out of our Mother and do it at the greatest rate and scale possible. The majority of Americans and Canadians are ignorant about the issues at stake. Even in the liberal state of New York a recent poll with more than 10,000 online participants had over 51 percent saying "Frack Away," obviously believing the hype over the jobs and benefits to be had destroying the Earth. The same goes for the Keystone XL Pipeline. Far too many Canadians and Americans have bought into all the lies and propaganda associated with this international crime against humanity because they have been duped into believing they will somehow benefit from the dirtiest oil on the planet flowing from Canada to the Texas Gulf so it can be sold to China.
This is not irony. This is criminal. While the U.S. and Canada legislate to prevent any economy from developing or meagerly continuing on Native lands they rape the land they stole from us or are stealing from us. This is all being done while they lie to their own people and destroy the ground beneath their feet.

I am not a fan of what the white man did to our tobacco but I would rather be a criminal farmer, even of tobacco, than a lawful destroyer of the planet.