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Monday, January 8, 2018

A forgotten dispute


This post is to add some more opinion to John Grey’s review of the film Hostiles. More discussion will be interesting.

Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 20:07:32
From: C. Anthony Harding 
To: nativeweb
Subject: Seneca Tobacco and Fuel Tax Situation
This is a press release from the American Indian Movement in Cleveland, OH
Dated Monday April 21, 1997:

Cattaraugus Indian Reservation - On Sunday April 20, 1997 a group of 1,000 peaceful Seneca protesters shut down the New York Thruway. This protest turned into a violent confrontation after New York State Troopers attempted to forcefully remove the protesters with the use of pepper mace and batons.

The protest is for the violation of the Sovereign treaty rights of the Seneca Nation. Governor Pataki's tax policy is to force the Senecas to collect sales tax on gasoline and cigarettes sold on their reservation land. The state of New York has cordoned off the entire region and are arresting any native American Indian attempting to enter or leave the region. Several individuals attempting to walk out of the area to get to their place of employment have been arrested and subject to abuse at the hands of officials. At this time a temporary restraining order has been issued to allow heating oil only into the region. Failure of the Senecas to sign an agreement with the state of New York that violates their treaty rights have resulted in massive unemployment on the reservation and hardships for the small business owners. No news reports have been broadcast or printed due to the black out by the state officials. Thousands of motorists that have been diverted off the Thruway believe the cause to be road work. Road work it is, but it's not being conducted by the State Employees......

The above is twenty years old, and repressed. I only know because I was involved. I had the Seneca version explained to me by a Seneca, before a State Trooper threatened him with detention if he did not leave. I was on the Southern Tier, coming home from a show, and was diverted over the mountains by the protest.

I wrote of this adventure years ago, but my index is so trashed I can no longer find it. Perhaps someone recalls my recounting the adventure of the fires and explosions along the Southern Tier, as we drove past. The Seneca Nation was protesting the embargo of fuel oil by Governor Pataki all winter, in retribution for non collection by the Seneca Nation of United States sales taxes on cigarettes.

When it happened my brother-in-law got additional information for me from his truck driver network. My New York friends knew nothing of the problem and probably still do not.

I’m putting this out again as an addendum to John Grey’s review of the film, Hostiles and a response by a reader of natives not playing fair among themselves. I responded with what I remembered of the Pataki incident twenty years ago. Someone responded Pataki was a fair governor who did good things for the citizens.

Bringing me round full circle of a lifelong dislike of the government’s settlements with natives, and the general ignorance of the average citizen of the treatment of natives. As a nation we have a record of killing probably unequaled in history, of our native peoples.

http://sisis.nativeweb.org/seneca/rally.html The small clipping I located of the incident I saw.

Since I never can let well enough alone, this afternoon, at cards with the Methodists, I put a question to one of them, as follows: “Peter, as a man of color, answer a first question in few words. How has your race fared since ‘freedom’?”

“Worse than yours,” he replied.

“And,” I followed up, “how about native Americans?”

Long pause, and a harangue. “How do you compare genocide to slavery?” he asked. “At least you spared us women and children.”

I recited briefly my Seneca story. Peter, a native New Yorker, will reconsider his opinion of Governor Pataki. He remains firm on white privilege. 

25 comments:

  1. It's a facinating subject and one that has been reinacted in many places..Australia, South Africa etc... thank you Joanne for this post x

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  2. Definitely Canada, as Debra said.

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  3. Hari OM
    I read both John's and your post with fascination. I do not feel the need to watch a film (regardless how finely tuned) about a subject too close to family; I do, however, feel the need to agree that as white Caucasians we can NEVER fully understand the plight of the peoples of other ethnic identity, no matter how much we wish to support them. But we can honour them by educating ourselves the best we can in order not to repeat our (collective) mistakes. YAM xx

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  4. As a member of the Cherokee tribe I can truthfully say the Indians (and most of my relatives call themselves that) have never been treated fairly. If it were not for what the tribe does for it's people there were be far less of them, but the Cherokees take care of their own.

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  5. Fascinating. Poor people being forced to remain poor so they can be discriminated against. There are many tribes represented on several reservations in this part of the country. It is made almost impossible for them to make something of themselves.

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  6. Since colonization of America by Europe, every tribe has been and remains to be attacked. It is under our white radar and only information like this can educate others.

    Genocide and repression cannot be ignored, but it is. My gr-gr-grandmother was Seneca and lived on the edges of the reservation. She had married a white man, so she was on the outer edges.

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  7. Check the indigenous enclaves in Costa Rica...so called respect for culture masks an abuse of women and children, a refusal of individual independance which passes under the radar...all this bolstered by the state.

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  8. We were, and are, guilty in Australia too. And struggling to find a way to make amends.

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  9. As Elephant's Child says, we are guilty of heavy handed treatment of our native aboriginals too, and such stories always make me a little sad. What is so special about being white that makes them feel superior? They live(d) differently, but that doesn't make them inferior, just different and they are probably willing to assimilate if they can do so under their own terms and keep their own customs and beliefs should they wish to do so. On the other hand, if white people wanted to learn from them and live their way, I'm sure they would have been accepted and your country would be many nations living side by side. Peacefully. Why can't people see what is beneath the skin and its colour?

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  10. Yeah, our record ain't so darn tootin hot either. Maybe worse for all I know. We still have issues with water and housing, especially on those isolated reserves, mostly to the north although not necessarily far north as in Arctic.

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  11. white people. as a whole we are greedy selfish liars and when whoever we are suppressing doesn't kneel down, we kill them.

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  12. Your blog is searchable...The original post, or the one I found, is at
    http://cuponthebus.blogspot.com/search?q=seneca

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    1. Thanks. I see how it's done and will do it in future. I've spent hours thumbing through five or six years of posts in the past.

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  13. I agree with Ellen. Americans are a self righteous bunch!

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  14. This is quite interesting and informative. I have drive that interstate highway (now 86) many, many times. I lived in New York State during the Pataki years. He was mediocre at best. He did what you say he did. I remember.

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  15. It is bad in Canada, too, as others have pointed out. I hoped Trudeau would speed up assistance to our indigeneous peoples but it's turning out to be the same old story.

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  16. Hello Joanne, so you have socks the same colour as my youngest grandson, and you have the same name as my daughter, but you have the same clarity of debate and fire (?) as my grand daughter Saskia.. so you're part of the family!!

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  17. saying what needs to be said xx

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  18. my great grandmother was on the trail of tears and Native Americans have been treated worse than any group in America I think. Today I am not sure why but your posting is making me think about why black people feel bad about slavery and injustice and maybe I have an small understanding. I never suffered from the trail of tears but perhaps my psyche unconsciously does; I can't pretend to know another person's feelings because I am not them and I do not have their experiences and their feelings, I have no answer just a little bit more understanding. I can't agree with Ellen however because I don't believe white people as a whole are greedy, selfish and liars, perhaps those in power are but they do not represent the whole of white folk, just like a bad apple Native American, Asian, Jewish, Muslim or Black person etc does. It is said our country and countrymen are one of the most generous nations in the world and I agree with that. Generous people are not greedy, selfish or liars. In today's world I am not even sure what folks want to be called, white, black, native, how about just a person. Until we can come from that point of view society as a whole just seems to be going up and down like a see-saw, just like politics in today's world. I think our country and countrymen as a whole are more accepting of other points of view, other religions, other sexual preferences, other races, other ethnicities, other viewpoints than any other place on earth and still we criticize ourselves. Rightly so, and yet not always so rightly the way to be, or do, or go; perhaps we need to agree to give each other a break - give each other the benefit of the doubt.

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  19. Joanne -- I have not been active on my blog for a very long time. I have been traveling -- wandering -- you might say soaking in the various cultures of our country.

    You once sent me a lovely woven towel that I still treasure. You were moving into a double wide last time I read your blog. Are you still there? Do you still have a flower garden?

    Have always enjoyed your blog -- plan to stop in ever so often to read what you are doing. Maybe some day I will get back to blogging.

    Take care -- stay warm -- Barbara -- folkwaysnotebook

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    1. Good to hear from you, Barbara. Really good. Your pictures were a joy.

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