From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom on the Onondaga Reservation, New York
Date: October 2, 1993 Phone: (315) xxx-xxxx
I mentioned yesterday that I had been given a press statement by the women who have formed the "blockade" of the businesses that are claimed to be "illegal" by the "Onondaga Tribal Council". The statement says, "We have never needed a police force on our nation. We, as a people, look out for ourselves." Now, I may be misunderstanding what they are saying, however, I have seen the Sheriff respond to no less than eight calls in the past two days. All of the calls have appeared to be "frivolous," such as responding to people who attempted to enter the "blockaded" businesses.
There is also the statement that, "women are less likely to invite violence," however it was these very women who pummeled the car that had attempted to enter the business on Friday evening.
The statement alleges that the owners of the "illegal existing businesses" have been operating "illegally" for the past ten years. It makes one wonder why these businesses were even allowed to open, and that efforts to close them have been commenced only now. It is also interesting to note that there are two businesses that are not considered "illegal." One is owned by the Cook family, which has much representation on the Tribal Council, and the other is owned by Freem and Thomas, Thomas being on the Council and Freem having an uncle on the Council. This gives the appearance, then, that commercial enterprise is a birthright in the Onondaga Nation, but only for a select few. Interestingly, one of the "illegal existing businesses" was the first such enterprise and the apparent roll model for all subsequent "cigarette" businesses.
In the statement there is also a suggestion that, "The practices used by the illegal business people ... jeopardize our sovereignty." I wonder whether the sovereignty of the Tribe is more jeopardized by the commercial activity or the use of the local Sheriff to attempt to regulate trade. If, as suggested, this is an Indian problem and requires and Indian solution, the use of County Law Enforcement officers would be tantamount to using United Nations troops to control the LA Riots.
Finally, there is the statement that, "Violators of the barricades who patronize the above-mentioned illegal businesses will be prosecuted. In accordance with Article #7 of the Canandaigua Treaty . . ." Interestingly this Treaty requires that complaints by Indians against others must be made, "to the President of the United States, or the Superintendent by him appointed..." [Canandaigua Treaty, 7 Statute 44, Article VII]. When the action that results in a complaint is dealing with an effort to have commerce with the Indians, I am sure that the President, or the Superintendent, would not be interested in get involved in the matter.
There does seem to be a problem here on the Onondaga Reservation. The problem appears, however, to be that there is an effort to control, not regulate any commercial enterprise on the Reservation. It also appears that the Onondaga Tribal Council has imposed a tax on commercial enterprise, and that, though the taxes were paid in the past, certain businesses are asking for an accounting of the expenditure of the tax revenue.
I will, hopefully, be talking with members of the Tribal Council to understand the other side of the dispute and answer other issues brought up in the statement in the next few days.
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