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, January 13, 2009

The Stage is Set for a Rough 2009

Anyone who heard what the Seneca Nation had to say today that believes it was little more than sabre rattling may be right. But what was hidden in those words was the implicit approval for the Seneca People to begin taking action themselves. With the Seneca Nation officials asserting a legal claim to the land the Thruway passes through, it is just a matter of time before travel is interrupted. Mr. Paterson has started a ball rolling that will inevitably come back around to crush his tenure as governor. With all his budget problems, picking a fight with Native People in eleven communities spread throughout the State is just stupid. Unlike for Mr. Paterson, our people have seen this all before. The difference this time is that our people have more resources, experience and incentive, while the State has a police force that has made it clear they want no piece of this and a budget that has no room for another 30 million dollar debacle(that's in 1997 dollars). The State needs to finally stop jumping to the commands of the convenience store lobby and Big Tobacco and take a look at why they are so passionate about attacking our commerce. State tax law allows its residents to have up to two cartons of cigarettes at any given time with no NYS or NYC tax paid anywhere in the State with no tax liability imposed upon them. With this move from the State, what is being proposed is a scenario where the State continues to look the other way as its residents leave the State to avoid its oppressive tax burden while digging in against Native retailers that contribute to the State's economy. The convenience stores oppose us because they can't set up shop on our territories. They can, however, set up across any city, county or state line that gives them and advantage. Big Tobacco is gunning for us because we are chipping away at their market share with our own manufactured products. When we were providing cheap access to their product, they bent over backwards to accommodate us. Big Tobacco fought over us for shelving contracts and premium display space. They provided promotional discounts on their products creating even more price disparity with the convenience stores. When Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds could no longer keep the Native products on the bottom shelf they joined in the opposition. The People of the Six Nations know we are right. Not everybody is a "treaty" expert, but we don't need to be. We are not defined by treaties. Our sovereignty is a birth right. In the last treaty between the US and the Six Nation, the United States acknowledged the lands we possessed to be our property and swore to never claim it or disturb us in our use of it. No right or privilege was given in these treaties, the US simply acknowledged what always was. As I stated in a previous post, Democracy does not happen in a voting booth, it may happen on the New York State Thruway.

2 comments:

ohnkwe ohnwe said...

I can't get past the fact that New York State law allows anyone to bring up to two cartons of untaxed cigarettes into the state for use and consumption, yet the State is trying to stop Native retailers from making those sales. NYS will look the other way as other states solicit sales from their residents even though it drains both the tax and the actual sales revenue from the state, as well as cutting into the state's Master Settlement funds.

ohnkwe ohnwe said...

According to the New York State Cigarette Use Tax Return Form CG-15, every body in New York State can purchase and enter the State with two cartons of cigarettes without New York State or New York City excise tax applied while remaining free from any liability. This new law attempts to single out Native retailers while looking the other way as residents avoid the tax by purchasing out of state. The State's attempt to shut off supply to Native retailers while allowing tax free purchases elsewhere is arbitrary and capricious or just plain racist. The position of Native retailers is that the State cannot regulate activity on Native land and likewise cannot make Native retailers collect tax for them. The kicker here is that it is perfectly legal for residents to purchase up to two cartons of cigarettes even from Native retailers without the tax and that law is not changing. The State is simply attempting to block the rights of Native retailers to buy. So in other words, instead of changing its laws as it applies to its residents or enforcing the ones they have, the State is prohibiting sales of any tobacco product to Native retailers that might be sold to a non-native. I guess the State's policy is simple: "You Injuns buy from us. We don't buy from you".