(Akwesasne -- April 24, 1997) There has been much information circulating over the past few weeks with respect to the Interim Agreement between the Haudenosaunee and the State of New York. The interim agreement has been described by some as a tax compact thru which the State will impose its taxes on our people and territories.
This is not our understanding of the terms and intent of this agreement. The Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs would not support any tax compact. As the nation's government, we will ensure that the collective rights and responsibilities of the people are not eroded or undermined. We have always maintained a consistent position with respect to our status as a nation and we will continue to do so.
We have made it clear that, although the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs is tentatively supportive of the current discussions with the State, we are not an active, official, participant.
While the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs supports the principles outlined in the beginning of the interim agreement, we will wait to study the actual text that will come out of current discussions and base our contribution to the public discourse on accurate and current information. Our position will be based on the following principles:
- We have rights and we don't apologize for having them. Those rights should no longer be abused or put at risk by anyone. We understand that every right carries the burden of, at the very least, a responsibility equal to the right.The complexity of the issues requires that we use a good mind and avoid allowing emotions to dictate our actions. The disunity in our communities has made it difficult to achieve success in dealing with the issues facing our people and we want to avoid repeating past mistakes.
- Discussion and negotiations, if done properly and on the basis of mutual recognition and respect, can create a relationship with other governments which can lead to the resolution of other issues.
- Proceeds generated through the exercise of our rights, which belong to everyone, should substantially go to the communities and nations in an equitable manner.
- The Haudenosaunee (government and people) have the opportunity to begin a long term transition that will break our dependence and allow us to achieve self-sufficiency.
- We wish to avoid confrontations which involve unnecessary risk and injury. Friction among our people only serves the interests of the United States and Canadian governments.
- We wish to restore peace and prosperity and that's what the Haudenosaunee are about.
It is the desire of the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs to act in a manner which will promote a coming together of the people. We acknowledge the restraint demonstrated during these emotional times and we thank the people for maintaining an atmosphere of calm in the Kahniakehaka communities.
We look forward to continuing our participation in open and productive dialogue with the people. We have recently organized several meetings for that purpose. We retain the option of participating in any forum we deem appropriate and timely.
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For information, please contact the Mohawk Nation Council Office: