Monday, December 12, 2011
St. Regis Tribal Police Arrest Mohawk Longhouse Representative for Grand Larceny Over Land Reclamation
Monday, November 28, 2011
5 Questions with…
John Kane: Radio Host, Native Activist
The son of an ironworker from the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, John Kane grew up off reservation in a small town in Eastern New York, near the Vermont state line. After college, he married an Oneida woman and they raised their children in Seneca territory in Western New York. He became a member of the First Nations Dialogue Team in the mid to late 1990s, which is where he began speaking in public, writing letters to editors, and doing interviews on the battle with New York State over taxation. He currently hosts Let’s Talk Native…with John Kane on WWKB 1520AM, Sundays, 9-10pm.
Describe your show, in a nutshell.
“Let’s Talk Native…with John Kane” is a free-form show intended to be a conversation on a given Native issue or issues each week. Whether or not guests or callers join me, what a listener will hear is a full conversation on a subject—no sound bites or sensational one-liners, just an honest and thoughtful conversation. It is not the intent for the on-air conversation to be the last word on a subject but rather a thought-provoking start to a conversation that, hopefully, continues after each one-hour show.
Why do you suppose so little effort is made by local media to cover local Native affairs?
The media has become too much a part of the entertainment business. Unless Native issues can be sensational—tire fires, police confrontations, or political unrest that can compare to state or national scandals—our issues simply won’t buy ratings.
Overwhelmingly non-Natives think of the Native role in the regional economy to comprise cigarettes, gas, and gambling. What do you make of that?
It’s true but not necessarily by our choosing. While we have chosen certain businesses where our regulatory advantages have helped us to overcome or relatively remote locations, it was never our intent to get pigeon-holed into those businesses. On the Native Nations level, gaming has been shoved down our throats. If states had their way there would be no private sector development in “Indian Country,” only Nation-run gaming enterprises that have the state and federal regulators firmly embedded in those operations. On the private sector side, most businesses have become so consumed with fighting off the state that there is little money or will left for diversification. The question must be asked that if we can’t defend our place in legal trades like gas and tobacco, in what businesses would we be safe?
What opportunities do you see for economic development between Native and non-Native peoples? For cooperative growth?
I believe the answer to the current economic crises that are sweeping the globe is to turn away from the global economies controlled by the few where one region of the planet is exploited for their labor, resources, or lack of environmental concern to market to consumer-driven societies in another region. An emphasis on local economies where a dollar circulates several more times before it leaves the region makes sense on almost every level. Native sovereignty creates clean slates for economic development free from much of the bureaucracy that stifles business development. Native lands could be incubators for everything from the retailing of certain products to the manufacturing and tech transfers from the solid research institutions of the region. As businesses gain a sure footing within the safe havens of the economic development zones that Native lands could represent, they could expand throughout the rest of the region with a track record and business model already in play. Too much of the regional brain trust leaves the region for development elsewhere only to have the products of brain trust marketed back to the region. The same could be said for the resources of the region.
What’s the best show you’ve ever had?
If I had to recommend a listener to check out one show to convince them to check out more, I’d have to say listen to the October 16, 2011 show with Robert Batson or the October 23, 2011 show with Pam Palmater. Bob was the “Indian expert” for the Carey, [Mario] Cuomo, and Pataki administrations. The level of agreement we shared on the issues relating to our never-ending battles with the state is amazing. Pam is a Mi’kmaq and an author (Beyond Blood: Rethinking Indigenous Identity), university professor, and lawyer from the North. She was a great guest as we discussed the parallels with our battles with the US and Canada.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Friday, September 9, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Friday, August 12, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
May 16, 2011
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Commissioner Thomas H. Mattox
Building 9, State Campus
Albany NY 12227
Dear Commissioner Mattox:
We write in today in reference to the regulations that have been issued for the collection of New York State Sales Tax on Native territories for sales of tobacco products made to individuals who are not Native Americans. In reading these regulations, it is clear that the issue of the sale of Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products, which are produced on Native territories, are not addressed.
A call to your office yielded the response that this is a “gray area”. We respectfully disagree. There is currently no process in place to stamp Native cigarettes in order to effectuate sales tax collection, as can and is done with so called premium brands. It is our view that Native Brand cigarettes, which are produced and sold on lands owned by Native Nations, constitutes commerce that is essentially Native to Native, and therefore cannot be regulated or taxed by the State of New York. This issue is completely separate and apart from the Departments and the Courts contention that sales tax can and should be collected for the sales of premium brands to non-Native individuals, even when such sales are made on Native territories.
It is our view that the State should not pursue an effort to collect taxes on Native Brands because such an effort would be contrary to the sovereign rights of the Native American Nations, and would be a severe blow to the Native retail economy.
Since the regulations issued in the wake of the recent court ruling are silent on this issue, we request that you provide clarification to us as soon as possible and in writing. It is very important that all of the citizens of the State of New York and their elected representatives know what the intention of your Department is with regard to the collection of State taxes on Native Brand cigarettes and tobacco products.
We look forward to your timely reply and toward working with you to resolve this important issue.
Senator George Maziarz, 62nd Senate District Senator Tim Kennedy, 58th Senate District
Clearly a timely response has not been forth coming. In fact, thus far, no response other than the memo at the top has come.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
During the Anthony Weiner fiasco, Kane reminded me of the disgraced congressman’s duplicitous role in shepherding the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) of 2009, of which he was the House sponsor, through Congress. In the middle of this ridiculous Twitter situation with Weiner, I spoke with Kane on his show about the scandalous nature of an act sold to the public as an anti-terrorism, tax-evasion punishment with positive public health consequences as Rep. Weiner argued on the House floor. In reality, the act itself was a protectionist economic tool crafted by, and for the benefit of, the American tobacco giants and convenience-store retailers seeking a way to curb the growth of native brand cigarettes. The passage of the PACT Act is a textbook example of money and influence in Washington where holier-than-thou legislators preach from atop an artificial moral high ground from a pulpit made of campaign cash.
The greased wheels of democracy behind this bill carry a clown car of strange bedfellows down roads that all lead back to billionaire John Catsimatidis, the ringmaster of this bizarre circus of influence. Catsimatidis is a high-profile figure in New York politics whose fortune is derived from the oil-refinery, grocery and convenience-store industries. Most recently it was the high society nuptials between his daughter, Andrea and Christopher Cox—grandson of Richard Nixon and son of New York GOP leader Ed Cox—that put the Catsimatidis name in the public eye. This is a merger of the highest social order in New York, renewing the notion that Catsimatidis will take a shot at becoming the next billionaire mayor of New York City, a hope that had been dashed when current Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to run for a third term. Add to the mix that presumptive candidate and power-grubbing sycophant Weiner is out of the picture, and the Catsimatidis for Mayor campaign will undoubtedly be in full swing.
Catsimatidis stands in stark physical contrast to the relatively soft-spoken and diminutive Bloomberg. A big man with bulbous features, he has a caricaturesque appearance. Apart from these visual differences the two men have much in common. They are self-made billionaires whose party affiliations are fluid and for whom the job of Gotham’s mayor is the brass ring. Less notably, but important where the tobacco industry is concerned, they are perfectly aligned in their unmitigated offensive against the native cigarette trade, and they were Anthony Weiner’s two top individual donors.
Bloomberg’s assault on the Indian cigarette trade has been well-publicized, but it’s Catsimatidis who truly keeps the fire stoked. For example, half of the sponsors of the PACT Act have been recipients of Catsimatidis’ largesse over the past several years. Since the 1990s he has spread around nearly a million dollars in campaign contributions under his name or his direct family members. He even dumped campaign cash into the coffers of Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), who, during the cycles he received money, produced a congressional committee report titled “Tobacco and Terror,” which attempted to establish a link between the native cigarette trade and Hezbollah. It was a marginal and laughable report until Rep. Weiner matter-of-factly referred to the report (produced by his political nemesis) as gospel while arguing for the PACT Act on the House floor. From that point, the fate of native cigarette traders was effectively sealed. The New York and Washington, D.C. tobacco cabal, bought and paid for by Catsimatidis, included provisions in the act that delivered a direct blow to the Seneca Nation in western New York, arguably the most successful tobacco entrepreneurs in the United States, and direct competitors to the chain of convenience stores and gas stations owned by none other than John Catsimatidis.
Ironically, but purposefully, the only winners from the PACT Act were the tobacco manufacturers and convenience store owners who essentially crafted the legislation and financed its passage. Big Tobacco reaffirmed its competitive economic advantage by squeezing off supply routes for native brands and Indian retailers, which in turn benefited convenience stores with multiple locations. The act had little to do with trafficking, public health or terrorism, and everything to do with asserting monopolistic influence over a growing native trade that was gaining market share.
Watching Weiner argue the bill crafted by his donors told me everything I needed to know about this guy long before he revealed his true sleazy nature. “An act that goes after cigarettes, tax evaders and terrorism? Slam dunk… Who gets hurt? Indians? Where do I sign?” This was probably the extent of the conversation that transpired between PACT Act sponsors like Anthony Weiner and sugar daddy Catsimatidis. When it came down to it, Weiner could be bought. That’s the name of the game, I suppose, and whoever takes his spot will likely be no different. After all, a Weiner by any other name is still a dick. (You didn’t think I would get through the whole piece without a penis pun, did you?)
Jed Morey is the publisher of the Long Island Press, an alternative weekly newspaper with a circulation of 85,000, and www.longislandpress.com, which welcomes more than 750,000 unique visitors every month. He serves on the boards of the Long Island chapter of the New York League of Conservation Voters and the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in Nassau County, as well as the President's Council of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Long Island. Morey is also a proud founding member of the Keep It On Long Island (KIOLI) movement, an online community - www.kioli.org - dedicated to preserving the Long Island economy while providing environmental stewardship in the region. The Kioli founding members set aside 5% of membership investments to purchase shares of a local, organic Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project, which then donates the equivalent shares to Island Harvest, a Long Island-based hunger relief organization. In addition to the contributions on this blog, Morey authors the award winning column for the Long Island Press entitled "Off The Reservation" and is a staunch advocate for Indian rights. Morey lives in Glen Cove with his wife, Eden White, and their two daughters.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I am in a constant debate with many Native people over where our Sovereignty and general "rights" come from. I grow frustrated with those that suggest that "treaties" grant us our sovereignty or our rights to and on our own land. I openly condemn the "treaties" that so many hold sacred. They were not pursued by us, written by us and they were rarely, if ever, properly ratified by us (or them for that matter). They do not define us or nor do they limit by their exclusion what our rights are (that is to say that if a "right" or "privelge" isn't spelled out in a treaty that it doesn't exist).
While I am not completely sold on the merits of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, it is amazing that every participating nation of the UN (with some holdback from the US and Canada) recognized the following:
Recognizing the urgent need to respect and promote the inherent rights of indigenous peoples which derive from their political, economic and social structures and from their cultures, spiritual traditions, histories and philosophies, especially their rights to their lands, territories and resources,
Recognizing also the urgent need to respect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples affirmed in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements with States,
Note that the Declaration associates land rights and resources with "inherent rights" not "treaty rights". And that the Nations of the world specify rights "affirmed in treaties" not granted in them.
Our people have to understand these distinctions and stand with the rest of the people of the world in declaring what they already seem to know and should be so obvious to us.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Monday, May 9, 2011
News from Attorney General Eric T Schneiderman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 9, 2011
New York City Press Office / 212-416-8060Albany Press Office / 518-473-5525https://alb-me3.oag.lawnet/owa/NYAG.PressOffice@ag.ny.gov/UrlBlockedError.aspx
ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN WINS SECOND CIRCUIT CASE TO COLLECT TAXES FROM NON-TRIBAL MEMBERS ON INDIAN RESERVATIONS
Court's Unanimous Decision Allows for the Collection of Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in Tax Revenue
Schneiderman: Today’s Decision Respects Tribal Rights and at the Same Time Represents an Important Victory for the State to Collect Deserved Revenue and Protect Public Health
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a unanimous decision upholding the authority of New York State to collect taxes on cigarette sales made on reservation land to non-Indian Tribe members. The Second Circuit recognized that New York’s law carefully balances the interests of Tribal sovereignty with the State’s legitimate interests in taxing all cigarette sales made to non-Tribal members. The State estimates that the decision will enable the State to collect approximately $500,000 per day in additional tax revenue.
"Today’s decision respects Tribal rights and at the same time represents an important victory for the State to collect deserved revenue and to protect public health," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "The decision closes an enormous tax-evasion loophole that was depriving New York of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue. I'd also like to commend all of the attorneys in the Attorney General's office whose extraordinary efforts on this case helped us achieve the best outcome for New Yorkers."
In 2010, the New York State Legislature passed a law requiring the collection of cigarette taxes on cigarette sales to non-Tribal members. The law provided Indian Tribes with several options for collecting those taxes while ensuring that cigarette sales to qualified Tribal members would remain tax free. The law is important for protecting the public health of New Yorkers as well as raising hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue during a time of economic hardship.
The law was intended to go into effect on September 1, 2010. However, in August 2010, several Indian Tribes sued the State in federal district court to enjoin enforcement of the new law. The Tribes asserted that the law violated their tribal sovereignty and caused them irreparable harm. Two federal trial courts stayed the enforcement of the law. The New York Attorney General’s Office filed an expedited appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Today's unanimous decision accepted the arguments made by Attorney General Schneiderman. The Second Circuit determined that under settled United States Supreme Court law, the Tribes have no likelihood of success on the merits. Accordingly, the Second Circuit vacated all orders staying enforcement of New York’s tax law.
Deputy Solicitor General Andrew D. Bing argued the case for the Attorney General's office. Special Counsel to the Solicitor General Alison Nathan and Assistant Solicitor General Steven C. Wu also handled the case, all under the supervision of Solicitor General Barbara D. Underwood. The initial case was also handled by Assistant Attorneys General Robert Siegfried, David Roberts and Darren Longo.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
Through our exposure to the elements of corruption, brought by the colonist after a devastating mass loss of people from disease, we were very vulnerable. Temptation of material things clouded the minds of some of our people. Our decision making was "not of a good mind". The core principal of our society was breached. The respect was fading.
The loss of that spark was further snuffed out by the influences of the boarding schools. There the children were punished, abused and on occasion killed, just for being Native. Out of love for their children, some of our Grandparents thought that if they didn't expose the children to who we once were, it would spare them from the pains. We were falling to assimilation. It was getting colder.
This assimilation has become so deep rooted that some don't even recognize the most basic elements of respect. This past week has shown me a lot. There is a major disconnect from what those elements are. We as a people need to recognize that our society is broken. It is a time to heal the wounds that have cut away at our world. It is hard even for a small room full of people to agree what kind of pizza to order! How are we supposed to win a fight against attacks on our peoples sovereignty if we only look out for our own personal interests and not the good of all? Learn who we are. Look out for each other. Talk to your elders. Read a book. Google it. Whatever it takes. Get your spark back. I did and I'm getting fired up!
Friday, February 4, 2011
This has come up before, but Cuomo’s budget plan assumes that the state will get $130 million from, finally, taxing cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians.
From the budget’s revenue projections: 2011-12 Projections All Funds receipts are projected to be $1,786 million, an increase of $165 million, or 10.2 percent above 2010-11. This increase reflects the full year impact of the legislation enacted in 2010-11, including $130 million in cigarette tax revenue from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans.
News of the planned taxes was greeted warmly by an organization that has been pushing for that, the Enforce the Law, Collect the Tax Coalition “The Enforce the Law Collect the Tax Coalition applauds Governor Cuomo for projecting real and significant increases in cigarette tax revenue in his 2011-2012 Executive budget. By projecting excise tax collections from the implementation of laws requiring the collection of tax on cigarettes sold on Indian reservations to non-Native Americans, the Governor’s Executive budget proposal is yet another clear indication of the administration’s commitment to rectifying this long standing inequity. We remain confident that the courts will soon conclude that the state is correct on these issues and will clear the way to collect these much needed revenues.”
A reality check may be in order here, since the Indian tobacco tax has been on the books, unenforced, for years and it was supposed to happen last year as the current budget was being finalized as well.
February 2, 2011, 7:18 PM
I thought that every Indian nation had its own separate laws and therefore are not subject to outside laws. So how can Cuomo even bring this up?
February 2, 2011, 7:49 PM
Including revenues from cigarette sales on Indian reservations to non-Indians shouldn’t that be considered another Budget “sham” Mr. Megna?
February 2, 2011, 8:06 PM
Perhaps the Governor is going to finally get our money’s worth from the $100,000 per year Troopers by using them to enforce the tax collection.
February 2, 2011, 8:35 PM
These native Americans are not going to pay NYS one single cent of tax money. They would rather owe NYS than screw us out of that tax money. I think that NYS should stop maintaining the State highways that pass through the reservations and lead to their casinos. Not too long ago, the Seneca Nation wanted to charge a buck a car for each vehicle passing through their reservation along the NYS Thruway. OK; but payback is a bitch, ain’t it?
February 2, 2011, 9:13 PM
MomofThree, courts have said a number of times that the state would not be taxing native americans. The state would be taxing native american sales to non-native americans. Their laws/treaties have nothing to do with it. This absolutely is an issue of enforcement and each of the last three governors have basically not even tried, even though they all count the revenue.
Talk about a scam.
6. Parma Ham
February 2, 2011, 10:26 PM
Smith, good point about the troopers, how about starting them at $45k and letting them up to $60k after 10 years. i bet you’d get no shortage of quality applicants
February 3, 2011, 3:37 AM
What the state really needs to do is set up checkpoints right outside the reservations to collect duties(taxes) from people leaving the Nation. Just a simple “Do you have anything to declare?” and a search if necessary should bring in the revenue.
And don’t worry about the Native Americans closing off the Thruway like they did in 1997. They want thier casino money, they won’t close thier lifeline to all that revenue.
February 3, 2011, 5:54 AM
its really not a big problem… if the taxes arent collected we can just layoff more state workers. I mean, thats what they are there for… right?
February 3, 2011, 7:20 AM
The state will lose on this as well as all the other bullying tactics they are attempting!
February 3, 2011, 7:41 AM
What I don’t get is why we continue this farce. The residents of these “nations” have Us Citizenship and the right to vote in US elections, and thus should be subject to all taxes imposed on the rest of us. We should stop pretending that they aren’t part of this country. The annexation was complete almost a century ago, sweep away the last vestages of deceit and bring our fellow citizens into the fold.
11. WHAT A JOKE
February 3, 2011, 8:02 AM
The tribes want New York services? The Tribes should then pay New York taxes. What’s complicated here? The Tribes can’t have it both ways.
12. Albany Resident
February 3, 2011, 8:50 AM
How about we cut the $130,000,000.00 out of the budget. If the blood-suckers at the capital don’t have it, maybe, just maybe, Cuomo won’t let them spend it. But thats probably as much a pipe dream as collecting the tax is in the first place. However I do like Lwoodbluz take on it. We have checkpoints at the entrances/exits to our other “Nation” neighbors, they want soveriegnty then treat them like it!
February 3, 2011, 9:28 AM
@ mom of three, if they are a sovereign nation why do they receive state and federal funds.
They can accept our tax dollars but can’t collect taxes on non-natives? It is one or the other not both.
14. From Western New York
February 3, 2011, 10:41 AM
The new tax revenues will NOT be achieved. First off, there is the whole issue of elasticity. People will buy fewer cigarettes. Second there is whole substitution issue. People will seek other, cheap sources. Finally, part of the tax revenue will need to be diverted to pay for unemployment, welfare, WIC, etc. as New York Jobs are killed by the Governor.
15. Robin Hackett
February 3, 2011, 11:02 AM
@From Western New York…you’re right. I already buy my ciggarettes in the states I travel through. I haven’t bought a pack in NY since Patterson’s last luxury tax increase.
February 3, 2011, 12:55 PM
If the Tribes have to tax non-residents, their cigarette sales will drop like a rock anyway, so the revenue the budget is projecting in new taxes is just an excuse to spend more money they won’t have.
The border patrol checkpoints on the tribal territory boundaries is an interesting idea. I wonder how many state workers they would have to hire to man those stations? They could easily suck up all that extra revenue and create new state worker jobs at the same time. The additional funds would never make it out of the administrative funds necessary to implement it, the unions would look good and a few western state lawmakers would look good come next election……
February 3, 2011, 1:10 PM
All DTF has to do is to subpoena the Merchant Account Processors for the Indian retailors and compare the list of who made purchases with visa, mastercrad, etc. that did not report it on their state income taxes and issue notice of deficiencies to them.
18. can't uc
February 3, 2011, 3:16 PM
If the plan is imposed on the natives to collect taxes on sales to non-natives , it will only create a huge black market making more natives very wealthy.
February 3, 2011, 7:26 PM
It is time for Andy to stand up and shut down the indian casinos. Spitzer had the chance but lacked the courage. Lets see if Andy has the guts to stand up to this special interest group
20. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:10 AM
We should be clear that the state knows this new law will not generate revenue from Native sales. The intent of the law is to shut off supply to Native retailers of unstamped product. If Native retailers lose their regulatory advantage, Native sales will end. The question is will those sales be made elsewhere and where? The numbers that are being used in this budget are a sham. They are based on past sales and assume that as Native sales are lost that a significant portion of them will become taxed sales. Over the past year Native sales in Western New York have fallen by 80% due to shutting down the US Post Office from delivering remote sales of tobacco. Even without Native sales, the state loses far more than $130 million in revenue leakage to out-of-state sales; this would obviously increase with the loss of Native sales, which by the way still contribute to the NYS economy. Of couse a fair amount of people will just not be able to afford to smoke and while that maybe a good thing from a health standpoint, it certainly does nothing for the state’s budget. The other thing, only lightly touched on by other comments is the price of enforcement. The last time the state did battle with the Indians it cost $23 million per month and that was before troopers were making $100,000 per year. The final point overlooked is the resiliency of Native retailers. They will still find product to sell, with or without New York State wholesalers.
21. John Kane
February 4, 2011, 10:19 AM
Another point that the media refuses to point out is that the state allows everyone in the state to purchase and consume in the state cigarettes without NYS tax applied up to two cartons per consumer. NYS Form CG-15 for Cigarette Use Tax clearly lays out the exemption (http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/2010/altab/cg15i_710.pdf). Apparently, the state’s position is that these untaxed sales can be made anywhere outside New York's jurisdiction except on Native lands.