Wednesday, shortly before 11am, 20-30 federal agents moved on to the Seneca territory of Cataraugus to arrest Will Parry and to search his home and business. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives came in en masse after a long undercover investigation that spanned from Kansas City, Missouri to the Native lands of the Seneca. Whether it is a coincidence that Parry was singled out in what many would perceive as a pretty brazen assault on a strong community of Senecas remains to be seen. Parry has had an on-going dispute with the Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI) business regulators and challenges the authority of their Import-Export Commission to tax and regulate Seneca businesses. With or without SNI approval or involvement the ATFE asserted federal authority/aggression over a Seneca man on Seneca soil. Will Parry is accused of violating a federal wire fraud and telecommunications statute in the purchase of cigarettes; not drug, guns or bombs: cigarettes.
This raid constitutes the second armed act of aggression this year by federal authorities within sovereign Native lands of the Western Door of the Haudenosaunee. Early this year almost 100 federal agents raided several businesses on the territory of the Tonawanda Senecas. Most in this area can not remember a time when the federal government has taken such aggressive actions against Native people. Add to this heavy handed attempts by the IRS and the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) agents to impose and collect income and "floor" taxes against individuals and tribal governments and the atmosphere is clearly unprecedented.
A US President who spends millions on photo ops with "real Indians" and even has a Crow Indian name has signed several bills into law that killed thousands of jobs and businesses on Native lands and has TTB agents adding insult to that injury by attempting to impose millions of dollars in "floor tax" on those very businesses and others. There are some "BIA Indians" out west that will swear that Mr. Obama is the best president "Indians" have ever seen (of course that includes the Crow). In the lands of the Haudenosaunee the president is called Ranahtakaias. This name started with Washington and has been used for the 43 since. The "Town Destroyer" that now sits in the White House will almost certainly serve a second term before the 45th Rahnatakaias is served up and as such the question is: will he continue to violate the sovereignty of Native people?
This year also saw this Rahnatakaias tepidly endorse the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). It wasn't a full endorsement but rather an endorsement for the "aspirations" of the Declaration (provided, of course, it doesn't conflict with US laws or undermine the current remedy for Native conflicts; US courts). So tepid or not, what does a Declaration signed by every nation of the UN mean? And how can it be reconciled with the actions of this administration in DC? The question is not for the US courts but for the World.
Many would offer a complete disconnect between this Rahnatakaias and the US Attorneys and federal agencies directly involved in the aggression. But that simply can't fly around here. This guy even has a Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House. In fact, he is on his second one; Jodi Gillette was appointed this year after Kimberly Teehee left the post. Surely White House Indians gotta help close that gap.
All said and done, Will Parry sits in chains today not sure what the future holds. These things never go well in court (that's their plan). Can it be pulled out? Perhaps. The two raids this year cannot be erased but the next one does not have to happen and the current charges don't need to be pursued.
What is to make this stop? Time to get Jodi to put a bug in the ear of the 44th Rahnatakaias.