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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Enough with the BS. Let's Talk About the Real Issue.

For weeks we have heard nothing but the UN this and the UN that; the DRIP, the "Special Rapporteur", the Permanent Forum. All for what? So we finally can have our issues, Native issues, heard by the WORLD, the international community, responsible nations. And what do we talk about? Access to sacred sites, a 500 year old decree by the Vatican and, of course, treaties.

So even while the dust was settling from all this running around to DC, NYC and elsewhere, who was knocking on our doors? The IRS. It seems the illegal imposition of taxation, travel restrictions, use of roadways and anything else the the state and feds can throw at us to kill any chance for an economy didn't make the cut when we had the "World Stage". Even the much exalted chiefs councils of Onondaga and Tonawanda got served by the IRS.

A couple of years ago when the State Department was holding its "Consultations" on rethinking the US support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples(DRIP), I turned to the audience in the auditorium of the National Museum of the American Indian, putting my back to the stage full of federal agency representatives and asked the room full of mostly tribal government employees why is it that they work for their own nations on their own lands yet pay a tax on their wage to another nation. In that session, I was they only one addressing US interference in Native trade and commerce as.

The single biggest problem on Native lands is poverty! All social ills come back to this. Can some of it be traced to the Discovery Doctrine or other means of stealing our lands? Sure. But today's genocidal policies are specifically about denying our own economic development. Taxation and the constant assault and/or interference with our right to freely sell our labor, goods and services is at its core. Every town, county, state and nation of the world markets its regulatory advantages to promote its economy, yet ours is criminalized. Even Native to Native trade, from one Native territory to another is under constant attack.

For anyone that would suggest; yeah, but at least we got casinos. Well let's look at that. When California failed in its attempt to shut down a small Native community's bingo hall in the Cabazon case before the US Supreme Court in 1987, what happened was a scramble by Congress to shove a law down the throats of the "federally recognized tribes" that placed both the states and feds squarely in the middle of the Golden Goose of "Indian Country" within the year. So the ONLY regulatory advantage that can be exploited is the one regulated through federally mandated gaming compacts with the states under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act which all too often has the states scooping large percentages from the till. Hell, even pull-tabs had federal agents snooping around on our lands under the authority of IGRA.

In spite of the President of the Seneca Nation's plea to the US Senate Finance Committee this week for tax reform or for an "experiment" in tax immunity, we do not need a Congress that does not represent us to change its tax laws that never should be applied to us to be rewritten to help us. We also do not need, as Mr. Porter suggested, for "federal Indian policy" to secure exclusive authority over all economic activity on Native lands to tribal governments as a matter of federal law. As a people who would never convey such authority to anyone, we view the right to sustain ourselves as our birthright. Mr. Porter must have forgotten that legitimate governments derive what authority they do have only from the consent of the governed, not from his idols in Washington. The people's authority to regulate their own economies is also the authority not to. It seems the concept of freedom without chaos has become almost forgotten, even by those who descended from those that taught the concept to the white man.

We don't need reparations, compensation, cash settlements, acts of Congress or rulings from a far too politicized Supreme Court. We need to have our trade, commerce and livelihoods left alone. The message the world should have heard from us over the last several weeks should have been some simple instructions to the most self righteous and hypocritical bastion of freedom and human rights: Stop your attempts to assess and collect tax, stop your seizures of our products, get out of our casinos, leave our paychecks alone, stop interfering with Native to Native trade and watch freedom work. Maybe something will be learned again. Or is that what everyone is afraid of?

1 comment:

RezzDog (Ray Wahnihtiio Cook) said...

John,
Need more detail on the IRS serving the Onondaga Nation. Got any?

Ray Cook, (Akwesasne)
Indian Country Today Media Network
Op/Ed Editor