One Tribe

Once again, NY State and the Seneca Nation seem to be headed towards a conflict over collecting taxes on sales made on the reservation. I don’t know who’s right here, I can see both sides and don’t see a mutually agreeable way out.

I have the utmost respect for the Native American culture and beliefs. Unfortunately, I don’t see where exploiting a situation where certain commodities prices have become high, in part due to taxes, should be exploited for the profit of a few Native Americans. That’s not what we should learn from their culture. Maybe it’s what they’ve learned from ours…

And just what is a “Native American” anymore, anyway? I was born here. My parents were too. So were my Grandparents. I don’t know how many generations I would have to go back to actually find an ancestor from Europe. Am I as much a “Native American” as some blonde-haired, blue-eyed person who has a Great-great-grandmother that was born on a reservation?

We all live together. Many of us work together. I worked with several card-carrying Native Americans where I was formerly employed and they were hard-working, honest, good people. But New York is in a jam, financially and needs to collect the taxes, rather than think up new ones.

Native Americans – at least around here, I can’t speak for the rest of the country – enjoy the same government services as everyone else, roads, schools, welfare, police protection, and on and on. Sure there are some Indian Schools on the reservation and Tribal Police, but they’re a small, token part of those services. Native Americans should contribute their share towards the cost of those services as being the right thing to do. I know they are a proud people and wouldn’t want it any other way.

And, the state isn’t even talking about the Indians paying taxes. It’s about collecting sales taxes on sales to non-Indians who go to the reservation to escape the sales taxes elsewhere. It’s hurting non-Indian businesses and creating an unfair advantage for businesses on the reservation.

I think it’s time to just say no to this fight and not do it at all. Let’s not fight over who gets to pay taxes and who has to collect them. They’re an inevitable part of life here. Let’s stop this us vs. them thing and become all one tribe. I’m not saying to dissolve the Indian Nations, or to assimilate them. Heck, maybe they should assimilate us. I think in many ways their values and teachings would be better than ours. They might do a better job than our politicians in Albany. Lets just say we’re all in the same boat and deal with it together.

Of course, they’re not perfect either. Some of the guys in Armani suits with bolo ties I’ve seen on the news with some of the casinos are probably just as shady as any politician. I guess money corrupts universally. But I still think rather than dividing us, we should be working out these issues together. Let’s stop this fight over taxes and do the right thing. We all benefit from the services the taxes provide, so let’s all pay our share, do our share to collect them and work on getting rid of the corruption in Albany so we can get the most for our tax dollar and maybe someday lower those taxes for all of us.

[I know I’m gonna get some hate mail for this post, but it’s got to be said. This separate nation, treaty thing just isn’t working anymore and we’re headed towards some ugly conflicts because of it. The reality is, we are all living together, lets start acting like it.]

Posted in News, Rants, WNY
2 comments on “One Tribe
  1. Mark G. says:

    Agree with everything you said, but feel one point should be added. The crux of the problem is the outrageous tax levy New York has placed on cigarettes. They can say that it is mean to discourage smoking, but every body knows it is just a cash grab. If NYS kept cigarette taxes at a reasonable level, most people would not go out of their way to buy the Indian cigarettes.

    For the state, it is a mis-applied calculus. They raised the margin so high that people have found another outlet. Simply lower the taxes and more people will buy the taxable product.

    High cigarette taxes do not deter smoking, they only deter the purchase of taxable cigarettes. To the contrary, high state taxes does deter state residency, but the politicians in Albany can’t make that connection either.

  2. Very true. Sin taxes really never work. What we really need is a constitutional law limiting the amount of tax the government can levy. Then they’d have to live within that means. Make it percentage-based. If the economy goes up, the taxes go up with it. Goes down, they need to tighten their belts along with the rest of us. And it should include the whole tax picture, sale, income, property, fees, levies… But I really don’t feel for the guy who drives to the rez for smokes, instead of writing his congress-weasel and giving him a piece of his mind!

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