Tuesday, August 03, 2010

New York State Legislator Calls for Termination of Indian Nation Because They Fail to Pay Cigarette Taxes to the State

A New York State legislator - Senator Craig M. Johnson - has apparently called for the termination of recognition of the Unkechaug Nation because of its failure to pay cigarette taxes to the state on cigarettes sold to non-tribal members on its reservations, according to an article in Indian Country Today.

According to the article: "Almost 50 years after the termination era ended, a New York state legislator has reintroduced the idea with a recommendation to terminate the Unkechaug Nation. Sen. Craig M. Johnson, a Democrat who represents Long Island where the Unkechaug and their ancestors have lived since time immemorial, issued the recommendation in a June 11 report called “Executive Refusal: Why the State has Failed to Collect Cigarette Taxes on Native American Reservations.” ... Chief Harry Wallace, Unkechaug leader since 1994, said the recommendation is tantamount to advocating “cultural genocide.” “It’s genocide. It’s cultural genocide. That would be the effect of it.” ... Johnson chairs the state Senate’s Standing Committee on Investigations and Government operations, which compiled the report."

"Ten days after publication, legislators passed a bill to force tribal nations to collect taxes on cigarettes sold to non-tribal members on reservations by requiring all cigarettes sold to Indian reservations to have “an affixed cigarette stamp.” ... The 17-page report documents “an investigation in the fall of 2009 to explore the history of the collection of taxes on reservations and ways to bring the state and tribes closer to a solution to this long-standing problem.” ... The last recommendation says, “The state should revoke its recognition of the Poospatuck Tribe,” erroneously calling the Unkechaug people (“people from beyond the hill”) by their place name (“the place where tidal waters meet.”)." ...

"The 1950s termination era ended the federal government’s trust relationship with a number of tribes, introduced ethnic cleansing – relocation – and other policies meant to strip Indians of their cultural identity while allowing their lands to be sold to the highest bidders."

Also according to the article, Long Island Press publisher Jed Morey wrote on his blog: "“Much of the text in the report is written in a decidedly patronizing tone that attempts to assuage the ultimate message to Indian tribes of New York: Pay up or face the consequences. This recommendation (to terminate the Unkechaug) can only be classified in the following categories: A) Stupid B) Ignorant C) Racist D) All of the above.” The correct answer is D, Morey said. Attempting to revoke the status of a nation that predates our own and eradicate an entire race is the type of Machtpolitik that should evoke terror in our society. We should bristle at this type of caustic political language that stokes the fire of hatred and intolerance,” Morey said."

The Rest of the Story

This is disgusting. A lawmaker wants to revoke the status of an Indian nation - whose land we took in establishing this country - because he is upset that the state is not collecting enough cigarette tax revenue.

I agree with Jed Morey that this is stupid, ignorant, and racist.

And yes - it is going back in time to the 1950s termination era.

Senator Johnson owes a major public apology to the Unkechaug Nation, as well as some sort of compensation for the tremendous injury this cultural insult inflicts upon these Native peoples.

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