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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Saturday, February 27, 2010

NYS Governor Hanging by a Thread

While everyone sits back to determine how seriously to take the weakest Governor in the State's recent history as he tries the most aggressive and, frankly, ridiculous attempt to shut down the Native tobacco business, we have to decide what we will do to protect ourselves. It is fine to dismiss the actions of Governor Paterson, but perhaps just being dismissive will end up creating a situation where we miss an opportunity to thwart attempts by future governors as well future State legislatures.
Even if we look at Paterson's attempts as a weak political ploy for a guy who already has been forced to throw the towel in on a run for re-election, it doesn't change the fact that state politicians have been dogging us for years. Even the local state representatives have catered to downstate interests. Only George Maziarz has stood unflinchingly with us and we appreciate it.
We are now a position we always longed for and that is to have control over the product we sell. If the State wants to regulate their wholesalers out of our business then we should let them. There are enough Native tobacco products to support our businesses. We no longer need the products sold by non-native retailers. Our products by and large are just as good or better and priced where theirs can't compete even with coupons and buy downs. The fact is that big tobacco used us to pushed their sales and then turned on us when we started producing our own. Philip Morris has been colluding with state and federal authorities to specifically attack our businesses. They are allowed to advise and actually help craft anti-Indian legislation. Why should we sell their product anyway?
The one issue we need to address is any involvement by State wholesalers in the transportation and distribution of Native product. This never should have been allowed to develop in the first place. Theirs is an unnecessary step in the process of transporting Native product to our territories. We have the right to carry goods to our people without interference from anyone. Native to Native business does not require State involvement. The current situation is tantamount to extortion by the State. We pay their wholesalers to move our product for us and the State leaves us alone. The State gains an accurate count on our trade and uses that info against us.
By taking the logical step towards Native product only in our shops we wipe out all three issue the State has bitched about for twenty years. Revenue will be lost both from the inevitable death of State wholesalers and the loss of MSA payments collected from our sales of premium brands. Information Sharing will be lost with the elimination of the State licensed wholesalers from our territories. We certainly will not provide information to them. Parity will never happen. In fact they will not even have a product to compare. In the past they could look at the price of a carton of Marlboros on and off our territories, all the while ignoring how much buy downs and special promotions by those manufacturers added to the disparity. Now they will have compare Senecas to Marlboros, a comparison that Philip Morris dreads. And the prices will never compare.
The other thing we need to do is break down the barriers to trade between our people and our territories. Mohawk products should be promoted in Seneca territory and Seneca products should be pushed in Mohawk territory. Of course every Native territory in between should included and those Native territories outside the Six Nations as well. At some point we need to address the interference of our commerce by the feds, but the start of this battle is with our own people and those bent on working with the State. Unified opposition to the State will be an easy fight especially with a Governor hanging by a thread.

1 comment:

Ohnkwe Ohnwe said...

A little over 36 years ago New York's prick of a Governor was offered the Vice Presidency of the United States when Gerald Ford replaced the disgraced Richard Nixon as the President. In the wake of all the chaos New York got a replacement Governor; Malcom Wilson. This forgettable figure was not unlike the current office holder. It was during this administration that a group of Mohawks took the steps to reclaim lost lands. The current community of Ganienkeh is the result of this action. The Ganienkeh reclamation stands as the most significant and successful action in the era of asserting Native sovereignty.

The lesson learned 36 years ago was when the opportunity comes to accomplish great things, the moment must be seized. When that moment lines up with your opposition in a weakened state, that is all the more reason to act.

New York State may have never been in such pathetic shape as it is now; not even 36 years ago. The States finances are on the verge of collapse. The State Assembly can barely get out of its own way. And as I mentioned; David Paterson is hanging by a thread. Now is the time to go on the offensive. We need to push our way to assert our right to our commerce. Let's not wait to see if and when the State finally figures out how to cripple our businesses. Let's get them out of our business. Now is the time.