Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The Feds Try to Make an Example of the Tonawanda Senecas
On Thursday morning, February 23, at approximately 9 am, almost 100 federal agents raided four retail establishments on the Territory of the Tonawanda Senecas. The federal agents were armed with assault rifles and hand guns and represented the Department of Homeland Security(DHS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms(ATF), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency(DEA) and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs(BIA).
The warrants "authorizing" the armed invasion by federal authorities into the sovereign lands of the Tonawanda Senecas listed three specific product areas as the focus for search and seizure. No arrests were made and the speed and precision of the raid had agents in and out before the community could respond.
A product marketed as incense but is regarded as "fake weed", because its producers attempt to skirt the state and federal definitions of a controlled substance is the most sensational of those product areas. These products also known as "Spice" or "K2" are widely available at dozens of non-native retail establishments throughout Western New York. It is actually distributed by New York licensed wholesalers.
Another product area that was targeted were counterfeit or "knock-off" designer products such as purses, clothing or jewelry. These are the items sold by thousands of flea market vendors or street vendors in any populated area including New York City.
The final reason listed for the this vulgar display of threat and intimidation is cigarettes. Along with many brands of federally compliant tobacco products, many Native retailers carry cigarettes that are not produced with permits from the federal government. The products are produced by Native people on Native lands and are often retailed within the same community where they are manufactured. Some are branded and others are sold as a generic cigarette in bags rather than cartons. To the extent that these products are not retailed within the territories where they're produced, they are distributed as a form of Native to Native trade.
If this last target seems different from the first two because of its unique availability; know this: many retailers in many states now advertise the sale of non regulated cigarettes. Non-native shops even in Western New York allow consumers to walk into their store place an order and walk out with non federally regulated cigarettes. They will simply manufacture them while you wait and you can call them "roll your own". Yes it is true that a $30 carton of cigarettes still can be purchased in Western New York without having to travel to a Native territory; just search "head shops" and while you are there you can buy all the "fake weed" you like. No armed agents, no surveillance, no problem.
Make no mistake about this act of aggression. Its purpose is to harm Native people. The weapons were primarily to cause psychological harm; the bullets were to kill. The effort is just another in a long line of attempts to subjugate Native people. Killing the tiny private sector economies of Native lands is a federal policy. Always has been. Treating our people like criminals after stretching state and federal laws just far enough (or in these cases, simply misrepresenting the same) to criminalize our commerce is also federal policy. Nothing was confiscated here that couldn't have been seized from dozens of non-native retailers in Western New York alone. This was not about the "products". The feds know who produces and distributes these life threatening purses and incense. This was about singling out Native people for an act of pure aggression.
If it has never quite been made clear before, let's be clear here; The federal government, and the states as well, have no problem with our commerce as long as we are only consumers. They are even willing to look the other way on whether we pay taxes; again I'm talking about on our purchases. It is sales that the the feds and states want to kill. They don't want us selling anything to generate an economy. They don't want us selling our labor, our crops, our game, our art, our natural resources, our manufactured goods; nothing,,,unless they can tax it. And by tax it, I mean to tax it high enough to kill the sale.
There is one thing they have always wanted us to sell. They never worried about taxing this sale. They never worried about whether the sale was fair or legal. They never worried about the terms or how much boozed or how many guns or troops were used to coerce the sale. The only thing the state and federal government ever wanted us to sell and remains the object of their policies is our mother; our land. Everyone of these pieces of legislation, whether it is at the state or federal level, is designed to wipeout the distinction of our people and, more importantly, our land.