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Canadian Police put the Economic Squeeze on Six Nations Commerce

How do you repress a protest? Canadian police try a novel tactic: cracking down on the tribally owned businesses and people travelling with locally produced goods. The excuse? Indigenous business and trade is "the new organized crime". Hey Canadian government- start putting the handcuffs on yourself! Systematic treaty violation is a bigger "organized crime" than a few Native tobacco products!

MNN. Aug. 31, 2006. Two young Indigenous men told us a story about their recent run-ins with the Ontario Provincial police OPP. They are both from two Indigenous communities in southwestern Ontario. They were both arrested in an Indigenous community in southeastern Ontario by the Indian police for carrying Indigenous-made cigarets from one Indigenous community into another.

Previously our people were charged under the Federal Excise & Customs acts only. Then about one month ago Canada and Ontario put the "squeeze" on our people. We are now being charged under both the federal act and the Ontario Tobacco Tax Act. Canada catches us in the Indigenous communities, fines us and puts us in jail. Then Ontario gets a civil judgment under their law and goes after our assets. The province puts a much higher fine on us. They also can seize our cars and money in our bank accounts that are outside our communities. This is in blatant violation of the original promises that claimed that we would be able to move about on our land as before if we let Europeans settle here.

As far as we know cigarets can be transported from one Indigenous community to another. These guys were arrested in the Indigenous community. Several days ago one of them was pulled over in Akwesasne. Though it was legal, the Akwesasne Police officer said the cigarets were not allowed in the community. The store this man was delivering to belongs to the police officer's aunt. She can receive and sell the cigarets, but the man can't deliver! Does that make sense?

Welcome to freedom and democracy in Canada. This is what colonial Canada is doing to us because we have backed them into a corner demanding they obey the law and return our stolen land and resources back to us.

We are being attacked financially. The RCMP, the OPP, the Customs and the Indigenous police are working together. These authorities are purporting that funds from cigarets are supporting the Six Nations reclamation, as if our trade is illegal. When they claim that we are being financial by "organized crime", they are referring to the cigaret trade. Fair is fair. They should acknowledge that their mines, clear cut logging and other industries that have destroyed our environment are also criminal.

This strategy is meant to choke us economically so we will give up our struggle for our lands and possessions and to starve us into submission. As if it was possible for anyone to return to the 19th century economically! Right now it's the one million acres of the Haldimand Tract of southern Ontario. Next, the rest of Canada! When these corporate government entities are finished with us, it will be ordinary Canadian citizens next.

The anti-Indian hatred being spun by the politicians like Toby Barrett and others in the corporate media prohibits us from getting jobs in the dominant communities. All the branding against "Indians" in the mainstream media by government is meant to make us all look like terrorists, smugglers, criminals, thieves and good for nothings. In other words, to them we are not human beings! This demonizing makes getting a job outside of our communities very difficult. Prospective employers think, "How can we trust him or her. He/she's an Indian".

A government agent recently informed the Mohawks of Tyendinaga that, "Your are stealing from us by not collecting taxes for us from your non-native customers". The reply was, "Who says they're your taxes! Tobacco is indigenous to Turtle Island just like us". The agent walked out. Why should we collect taxes for them anyway? They don't collect taxes for us for the occupation of our land. They have the gall to claim possession of the land of which we are trustees for future generations.

Indigenous businesses are under pressure to close down. Both federal and provincial agencies are ganging up on us. They may have gotten rid of the section of the illegal Indian Act that made it illegal for us to hire lawyers to defend us. But they haven't stopped trying to deprive us of the means to pay for them, should we want to use them, or even for the food we need to survive during our struggles. If they catch the Indigenous person on or off the rez in a car or a van, they are arrested. If the cops find any cigarettes that have not been branded with a yellow band showing their alien taxes have been paid, the "Indians" are arrested. If convicted they will owe the value of the taxes, the costs, the legal expenses and maybe even jail time.

The courts put as much as $150,000 in fines on our young people. The federal government collects as much as it can from these young people in order to stay out of jail. In 1738 the King of England issued an order to his governors on Turtle Island that they will deal with the "Indians" through "economic weaponry". That's when our medicine men coined the disease of the mind as "owista", where priority of the mind goes from "we" to "I". Today the word "owista" is used by the Mohawks to mean "money". The only cure for this disease is the Kaianereh'ko:wa/Great Law philosophy. Owista in corporate society allows a few elite individuals to survive without social support. Just think about what kind of society needs this kind of instrument. It's a society that does not care for its own. A lot of the world suffers from this disease now.

If our young people don't hand over buckets and buckets of this alien voodoo owista, they end up in jail according to some bureaucratic formula, which could be up to 2 years. The young people being terrorized in this way are often fathers of young children. Imprisoning them and giving them a record prevents them from fulfilling their duties to the women, to their families and to their elders. It creates serious psychological problems and compounds the consequences of the harm that we have already experienced. The colonial system set this up as a way to trap us into their policing and welfare system. It's always their hope that our young people will become druggies, alcoholic, people who have given up and suicidal. It's the modern methodology of genocide.

The Indigenous people who are trying to run businesses in their communities are deemed to be in unfair competition with the outsiders. This is the "turn the settlers against us" strategy. The customers from outside are pressured and threatened if they buy from us. For example, at Tyendinaga, a customer buying lumber from an Indigenous hardware store owner will be visited by inspectors and pressured into paying taxes. They will pay it because they're scared that their house will be confiscated or torn down.

The band councils can only hire so many people. The rest of us have to fend for ourselves. This is the hierarchical/patriarchal system that has been imposed on us. Those of us who start little cigaret shops or stores to feed our children are targeted as competing with non-Indian vendors in the area. The local vendors start pressuring their local Member of Parliament accusing us of having an unfair advantage. "We have to shut them down", they scream. Our businesses are constantly being threatened with closure. We are not sure how to fight this. This is economic terrorism by the federal and provincial governments.

The worst part is when a young Indigenous person in high school starts looking towards their future. Colonial society shows us there is no hope or jobs out there because we're "Indians". Most of our businesses are harassed. If they want to work in the United States, President Bush and others don't want any of these "Canadian terrorists" to come in. We're not Canadian and never will be. We're not terrorists and never will be. But the colonial administrations are doing their best to terrorize us!

This strategy is meant to strangle the Indigenous people economically. When we claim our legitimate rights, the federal and provincial governments go overboard. Any two-bit bureaucrat thinks that "Indians" are fair game. Is it being engineered by some master mind in some secret war room in Toronto or Ottawa? Who is the current Duncan Campbell Scott, the butcher of the Indigenous people of the past? Is there only one or has he been cloned?

Someone at the top has planned to put the screws around us and tighten each one by shutting off our finances so we can't make a living. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has warned band councils, "If you don't play ball, your finances for education are going to be gradually cut". Hey, we'll be fine. Just give us the back rent you owe us for Ontario!

The whole idea is to economically deprive the Indigenous people so that it will weaken our resolve to make Canada live up to the laws that Canada has already signed both with us and in international venues. They want us to stop exerting pressure to assert our right to our lands and resources.

According to Louise Arbour, the Chief Prosecutor of War Crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. The Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario can be charged and prosecuted for genocide. What they are doing is certainly not as bloody as Slobodon Milosovic who mass slaughtered his victims in Kosovo. But does the fact that the slaughter of Indigenous people is slow and discreet make it any less reprehensible?

We remind these vicious colonial serpent heads that putting the squeeze on us will backfire on you. Turtle Island is ours. Every attack on us will endanger you, Canada.

Kahentinetha Horn

MNN Mohawk Nation News


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