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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Friday, May 22, 2009

The PACT Act Will Not Necessarily End the Native Tobacco Business, It Will Criminalize It!

What started as selling cigarettes out of converted house trailers and tar paper shacks has become a sophisticated industry ranging from quality manufacturing to a retail sector that exclusively caters to end user buyers throughout the continent. The Seneca and Tuscarora people turned a tobacco industry with no future, or at best a precarious one, into a legitimate economy that has had nothing but a positive effect on the Western New York economy. The transformation of a crude, cash only, under the table, no frills retail sector, that would buy from anyone with product and sell to anyone willing to buy, into an industry dominated with quality Native brands, full service convenience stores and other innovative sales, marketing and promotion strategies is a remarkable one. This kind of backward and parallel integration of an industry would be the model for struggling economies if it were not being done exclusively by Native people owed in no small part to their autonomy and sovereignty. Jealousy, racism and general ignorance marked by an unbroken chain of historical oppression will never allow this success to be enjoyed by Native people. And so all the efforts to bring legitimacy to an otherwise legal, albeit socially condemned, industry will have politicians and legislators from Buffalo to Albany and New York to Washington working overtime to kill it.
Now the outright assassination of an industry is tough for these guys. It's kind of like their "war on drugs" or their "war on terror". First they'll characterize as many people as possible (in this case Natives) as criminal and unseemly, then they will attempt to convert or otherwise take out the big players. But once the business reverts back to operating in the shadows it starts to get very difficult. When all the incentive for legitimacy and self-regulation is eliminated all bets will be off. Conflicts with law enforcement will once again be a fact of life, something almost unheard of these days. Bulk sales to individuals looking to cash in on bootlegging will return. High quality product will be reduced to cheap, unbranded bulk manufacturing. Seizures will be constantly reported but they will represent the acceptable losses for an industry once again relegated to operating in the shadows. All this will not be borne out of opportunity but rather necessity.
With U.S. law makers poised to adopt legislation that will attempt to wipe out 80% of the Native tobacco business, clearly not everyone will just lie down. A few will quit; just sit back and live off what ever nest egg they have been able to build during the good years. Some will try to diversify and get in to new types of businesses, most of whom will fail. But another select few will figure out how continue. These will be the future models for the Native tobacco sellers. Now with a much broader knowledge of the industry, away from the scrutiny of state, federal and tribal authorities, a whole new economy will emerge. Not one any of us want but it will be all that is left. All the tribal licensing and collective revenue generation that was intended to somehow keep the outside interests from harming our businesses will be shattered. Self-regulation will have a price tag. Words like smuggling and money laundering will continue to be frowned on from the outside social elite, but will be common on the rez. No "Trail of Tears" or "Rosewood" tragedy will follow here, just a giant step backward for Native people; back to a time we worked so hard to get out of. On a good note it was in those times that we learned to assert our sovereignty. As chaos is forced back upon us, we'll have to see what opportunities will be realized.

17 comments:

ohnkwe ohnwe said...

Canada is much more advanced in the criminalization of the Native tobacco business so if the original post sounds like it has shaded references to Akwesasne or Kahnawake, it does. It is amazing that the U.S. could so stupidly follow the failed policies of one of the only countries in the world with a worse history regarding Native issues. The tobacco industry in Mohawk territory still flourishes, but it never advances. It remains profitable and widespread but crude. Under a constant embargo and threats of seizures, the communities are like sanctuaries in a business war zone. Surveillance and specially funded police operations are in constant effect. Off territory arrests and high speed chases are just a part of doing business. The police (including tribal police) have shared the responsibilty for several deaths (Native and non-native) as a result of these chases.

The scenario projected for the future of the Native tobacco businesses that markets to Western New York was not dreamt up in a vaccuum. It already exists in the territory of the Mohawks. As it has been warned before; all those arrogant white men set on criminalizing us should be careful what they wish for.

Anonymous said...

Well I was wondering when this realization would soon be the discussion amongst our people ?Perhaps dark decisions must be made if not then forget about this way of life and lead on with the cowardliness way enforced upon us and expected to for all to live by.? This has been the discussion amongst quite a few of the brothers deciding about the dark decision that must be made we are told to stand down for now until it is time! According to the Elders council until then make up you minds as to which way of life you shall follow ?Think good long and hard about this?!

Anonymous said...

Washinton Watch.com

PACT Act

http://www/washingtonwatch.com/
bills/show/110_HR_4081.html

Anonymous said...

It doesn't look like a coincidence that in the US, Obama just signed legislation putting control of tobacco under the NHS. (If I understand it correctly.) This will start a whole new mess of new problems.

Anonymous said...

I think the democratic majority is based on tax tax tax,spend spend spend. What happened to our freedom, of any kind.I hope everyone writes to their senators, representatives,the president,(doesn't he smoke?)and put an end to these ridiculous taxes. already higher than any other tax.I hope the native americans can continue to thrive by their own free will they deserve, and government to let us all be free to do as the constitution clearly states.God bless america, and all its people.

Eddie H said...

Copy and paste into your address bar this website address to find out how you can help stop this unfair bill called S.1147 - the PACT Act of 2009: http://www.smokes-spirits.com/images/promotion/2009PACTact.pdf . Emailing these senators does absolutely nothing since they do not read the emails. All these senators have armies of support personnel that intercept the emails and these same support workers many times have their own anti-smoker agendas. Hand written letters have the most pronounced effect but as of this writing, time has almost run out. Only a phone call to the capitol switchboard and requesting to be connected to your state senator will do any good at this point. Or copy and paste the above web address to see the individual phone numbers for these senators. You have the right still to voice your opinion. Go to the above address and follow the instructions. Be a part of the political process. If you do nothing, you will suffer for it when this bill passes. Do it today.

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

The side bar has a link to a Call to Action flier and information sheet. Mail it, email it and hand it out to all customers of our Native retail outlets.

candyandy said...

This comment is directed at ohnkwe ohnwe: I was wondering if I could use this article for a facebook group to try and get people aware of the Pact act? I'd also like to use the 'Urgent action needed' page if thats allright?

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

To Candyandy or any other viewers/visitors, feel free to use the articles and links to promote our issues and spread awareness. Please try to reference Native Pride in the process. Also use the Facebook Share button at the top of the side bar to spread a link via Facebook. Thanks for your interest and willingness to be involved. We don't need leadership, we need participation.

Anonymous said...

Why are tobacco products being singled out. Wha about other items ordered over the internet paying no state or county taxes. I am disappointed with my senator. I was a democrat---but no more. Enough is enough

Paul said...

I oppose the PACT ACT. Why are smokers always being singled out and discriminated against? What happened to our HUMAN RIGHTS to choose what effects our life? What happened to WE THE PEOPLE? It's not WE THE PEOPLE anymore; it’s WE THE GOVERNMENT CHOOSE TO DO ON TO YOU ANYTHING WE WANT WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. This is what it's coming to. What happened to FREEDOM?
We the American People have become so complacent that we lost our backbone to stand up to the Government and just say ENOUGH.
This PACT ACT is just one of the many FREEDOMS that our Government will work to take away from WE THE PEOPLE unless we all stand together and say, WE ARE THE PEOPLE AND WE SAY ENOUGH !!

Please click my name above and sign the petition to STOP THE PACT ACT

candyandy said...

Here here Paul. People in the United States and pretty well every else have lost their backbones!

Anonymous said...

all those arrogant white men set on criminalizing us should be careful what they wish for.

Arrogant white men? The Democratic party is the stronghold of the anti-tobacco Nazis, and is also the stronghold of women and minorities. Bush, a white man, vetoed SCHIP which jacked up the taxes on some of your tobacco products over 2,000%. Obama, a black man, signed it. Also, the provenance of the PACT act was two women, and one of them was black. Not a white guy in sight, there.

You are really barking up the wrong tree, here. It is the female and minority do-gooder nannies of the Democratic party who are trying to put you guys out of business, not white guys like me. In fact, I used to be one of your best customers until SCHIP passed and I could no longer afford to smoke.

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

Bloomberg is not black, a woman or a Democrat and he is the worst tobacco nazi in the country. You can't be serious if you really think it is women and minorities that run Congress. Both the House and the Senate are the original white American boys club. I don't support either political party; they both screw us. In general, the Republicans are racists without a clue and resent the notion that a bunch of ignorant savages would try to assert their sovereignty. The Democrats are, as you say, a bunch of meddling do-gooders that try to regulate all aspects of American life. They too look down at us and would rather see Native people on welfare than develop a private sector economy. Either way, we get screwed. We can't get a Democrat or a Republican to give us the time of day at the State or federal level. So before you try to pin all this on Blacks, women and Democrats, show me even a single white Republican, or anyone for that matter, in the Senate that has enough nuts to fight the PACT Act.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg is not black, a woman or a Democrat and he is the worst tobacco nazi in the country.

This is true, but it is also anecdotal evidence which proves nothing. On the whole it is mostly Democrats and their female and minority clients who are trying to put tobacco vendors out of business. And who was it who voted Bloomberg in, anyway? Probably mostly women and minorities, since New York City is mostly populated by them. They also usually vote against Republicans and Bloomberg isn't a Republican. He is actually an independent who usually votes like a Democrat.

You can't be serious if you really think it is women and minorities that run Congress.

It is women and minorities who run the Democratic party and it is the Democratic party which currently controls Congress. You can't be serious if you really think it is "arrogant white men" who are the ones trying to put Indian smoke shops out of business.

I don't support either political party; they both screw us.

On this I agree. The Republican party is no great shakes either, but it is generally much less hostile to tobacco users and vendors. At this point, the Republican party is also pretty much the white guys' party.

show me even a single white Republican, or anyone for that matter, in the Senate that has enough nuts to fight the PACT Act.

11 people voted against the PACT act in the House. Every single one of them was white and all but two were white men. All but three were Republicans:

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2009-287

You know, since I quit smoking, I've taken up Swedish snus. I was thinking of going out to my local reservation tobacco shop to see if I could get a better deal, but maybe I won't now. I wouldn't want to offend your dignity by offering you my arrogant white man money.

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

By all means feel free to hate women, minorities and Democrats; that's your prerogative. My beef isn't with white people, it is specifically with those arrogant white men set on criminalizing us. In fact most of those guys are indeed Democrats. If you feel a need to defend them, then that is your right as well. But let me be clear: our most vocal and influential opponents are white men of both parties. There are a few Congressmen in the House that oppose anti-tobacco legislation, but by and large they are defending their tobacco industries in their states. We have tried to capitalize on their positions, but with big tobacco lined up against us most of these guys won't oppose anti-Indian legislation, in fact they support it. I said show me a Republican Senator with the nuts to oppose this act. I say it not as a dare but as a genuine request. I know there are no Democrats. It only takes a couple of them to put a hold on a bill and to allow an honest debate on the subject.
In spite of the Dem's bullshit reputation for civil rights, we have always fared better with Republican elected officials but certainly not because they are in anyway sympathatic or knowledgeable of our issues. Most of them think our sovereignty is hogwash and that we should just accept the gift of American citizenship and be damn grateful for it. If you are one of these guys, you are still welcome to shop here anyway.
Oh, by the way, congratulations on quitting.

Anonymous said...

THIS is ANOTHER TRAVESTY of USA government VICTIMIZING a NATION... once again in this case the AMERICAN INDIAN!!! And it is a SHAME too that MORE CITIZENS of what SHOULD BE AMERICA DO NOT TAKE A STANCE WITH GOD AND THE OTHER NATIONS CITIZENS AND DEMAND AN END OF THE TYRANNY TO THE AMERICAN INDIAN BY THE USA!!!

It is a Shame OF USA!!!


-----------

GOD BLESS us WITH INTEGRITY TO END THIS TYRANT REPROACH ON NATIONS BY USA government and its people that WILFULLY AND INTENTIONALLY LABOR TO VICTIMIZE SO MUCH AS ONE CITIZEN OF ANY NATION!!!

We ask ... We plead, and We provide GOOD RECCOMENDATION to USA government to TURN ITS DIRECTION TO BEING THAT AMERICA THAT WOULD BE APPRECIATED WELCOMED AND APPLAUDED BY ALL NATIONS INSTEAD OF A TYRANT ATTEMPTING AGAIN AND AGAIN TO VICTIMIZE CITIZENS LIVES IN NATIONS UPON NATIONS!!! AND ... THE AMERICAN INDIAN MUST CEASE OF COURSE TO BE ALLOWED TO BE A TARGET OF USA PRIDE USA GREED AND USA CORRUPTED POLITICS!!!


ge "ARACELLI"
WANTING AN AMERICA
AND NOT NAZI BIOGTRY ACROSS USA!!!