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.

"Let's Talk Native..." on ESPN Sports Radio 1520AM Buffalo

"Let's Talk Native..." on ESPN Sports Radio 1520AM Buffalo
Click the LTN Banner above for a link to the "Let's Talk Native…" page on ESPN 1520AM. Catch the latest show and the many before them
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, November 2, 2009

Testimony of Jed Morey, of the Long Island Press, to the New York State Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations

October 27, 2009
New York is in dire financial straits and its politicians are seeking refuge through taxation to cover up their own negligence. They claim that the sale of cigarettes to non-natives from the reservation is unjustly enriching Native Americans and is contrary to established law in New York. Of course none of this was a real issue until our government ran out of money. So while the state is struggling to maintain solvency, several reservations are gaining economic momentum. In essence, you tolerate them so long as they’re poor but now that the tables have turned your true colors are showing.

When billions of dollars from the landmark tobacco settlements were dispersed among the 46 states enjoined in the lawsuit, New York did what it does best: took the funds in a one shot, wrapped them up in a fancy Wall Street financial instruments and bonded out our future. To make up for the further budget shortfalls the state hiked taxes on cigarettes and artificially inflated the price of tobacco thereby creating a disparity in pricing on and off the reservation and causing a rift between retailers and the tribes. New York continued to maintain its pattern of reckless spending and found itself on the wrong side of this recession.

Long before the cigarette industry was booming on reservations, Indian nations sold cigarettes as a means of basic survival. Now they are being persecuted for succeeding. Unfortunately, the very unsympathetic status cigarettes hold in our society casts a dark cloud over the critical issues of taxation and jurisdiction and places in doubt the immutable right of self determination these tribes enjoy.

Instead of working with tribal leaders the government inquires about the possibility of obtaining federal law enforcement support against these nations and crafts unilateral policies that directly affect tribal lands. But without tribal consent these unilateral policies are unenforceable and exist in a vacuum; no different than attempting to legislate activities within France or Canada.

Mr. Benjamin who testified today actually introduced legislation to abolish the Poospatuck reservation writing that it “seems to be nothing more than a criminal enterprise.” Mr. Benjamin would exile a people who Judge Matsumoto, in her October 8th decision of this year, found to have “met its burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence” that they are recognized as belonging to a sovereign nation. What Mr. Benjamin and this panel don’t understand is that the very nature of sovereignty, by definition, holds that no legislative decision, judicial decision or executive decision outside reservation land has any bearing on activity conducted on reservation territory. The Supreme Court of the United State of America has repeatedly ruled that Indian Nations are sovereign nations recognized by, but not governed by, the Constitution of the United States.

In the end this is not about taxes, bootlegging or the black market. This is an issue of sovereignty and you are out of your jurisdiction, out of your league and out of your mind if you think these nations or its leaders will give up their rights with respect to it.
So before you examine the operations of the Longhouse, I suggest you turn your attention to cleaning up your own house.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

This guy was last to speak for a reason. I was there, he was really awesome, he's also got an article called "Poospafucked" under his columns "off the reservation" on the long island press website. I got his card after the meeting in NYC.

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

I have the article linked in the side bar under the "What They Say" links

Pridebourne said...

Morey's testimony was great. "What Mr. Benjamin and this panel don’t understand is ... the very nature of sovereignty," was an encouraging understanding of our situation. Sad that some of the committee members continued to insist that the reservations are "in" New York and that New York 'owns' tribes. Was it Golden that went on about a "Drop Dead Date" ? Can only imaging what he was thinking to come up with a Death metaphor.