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TOWN OF LOCKPORT -- About 30 people demonstrated outside the new Yahoo data center Monday afternoon to oppose the state's plan to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Native Americans to non-Indians.
With signs that included "Break a Treaty, Break the Law" and "Honor Indian Treaties: No NYS Tax," the protesters hoped Gov. David A. Paterson, who attended Monday's ceremonial ribbon-cutting, would get their message.
Many demonstrators repeated a recurring refrain that the state's plan to enforce the tax collection threatens the sovereignty of native peoples.
Joe Chrysler, a member of the Tuscarora Indian Nation, said the state's plan amounts to interfering with a sovereign nation.
"We have never, ever interfered with New York State in any issues regarding how to handle their government," Chrysler said, "and yet when they can't handle their government, they come to the Six Nations to let us be their scapegoat for their mismanagement of money."
The protesters who assembled Monday included members of several nations, including the Tuscaroras, Tonawanda Senecas, the Cayugas and the Seneca Nation's Cattaraugus and Allegany territories, Chrysler said.
Denise Walter, of Niagara Falls, said she sees the state's plan as an attempt to impose its "rules and regulations on another nation."
The governor should consider the plight of Native Americans, Walter said, as she held a sign that read, "Let Our Six Nations Live in Peace."
Walter said that when she considers the issues, she thinks of her son and wants the overall dispute settled so future generations don't have to deal with it.
"Instead of being about dollars," she said, "it has to be about morals and character."
The struggle over whether the $4.35-per-pack tax can be enforced continues to be fought in the courts.
Thursday, a federal judge in Albany blocked the state from collecting the tax from every Native American tribe in New York until at least Oct. 1.
One of the protesters, a man who identified himself as Kanietakeron of the Bear Clan, said he was sent by the clan mother with a message for Paterson and U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, who has issued rulings on the issue from his Buffalo courtroom.
Both need to cease and desist immediately, Kanietakeron said.
"It's a violation of our sovereignty. It's way beyond cigarettes," he said. "They're in violation, and they need to be held accountable."
Charles Nicastro, of Sanborn, is not Native American but participated in Monday's rally.
Nicastro called what the state wants to do "a terrible injustice," and said he believes the state has no right to impose the tax.
"[Paterson's] trying to implement a tax that's going to cost these people their livelihoods," he said.
The state had planned to start enforcing the tax collection on Sept. 1 but has legally been prevented from doing so because of various court rulings.
Many believe the issue will ultimately be argued before the Second Circuit federal appeals court, and then before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Source: http://www.buffalonews.com/city/communi … 195872.ece
Last edited by Ohelemapit (Sep-25-2010 03:32:am)