Mohawk Nation, Kahnawake Branch
March 31, 1997
In a judgment passed August 14, 1996, State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Harris gave New York 120 days to begin collecting taxes on the sale of gasoline and cigarettes to non-Indians on reservations in New York. Despite "discussions" that took place between the State and Haudenosaunee representatives, not recognized by the People of the Confederacy, no resolution ever came out of these discussions. New York State has misrepresented itself, the State has been insistent with proposals that will kill business on the territories and most importantly these proposals violate treaties as well as the sovereignty and jurisdiction of our lands and people. These proposals are an insult to our people. We are writing to inform you that the Kanienkehaka as one of the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy, strongly oppose the decision to begin the collection of taxes on Indian territories on April 1st, 1997. The Kanienkehaka Nation derives it absolute sovereignty, authority, and jurisdiction over it's territory from aboriginal occupation and autonomy, and a duly constituted government dating back several centuries before the coming of the Europeans, this we have never relinquished. We have a constitution that we call Kaianerekowa in our language, and known as The Great Law of Peace in the English language. The Great Law is the supreme law of the land that is our aboriginal territory. The People of the Kanienkehaka Nations still govern ourselves by this constitution to this day.
Wampum #72 concerning the 'Law of Ownership' states:
"The soil of the earth from one end to the other is the property of people who inhabit it. By birthright, the Onkwehonwe, the original beings, are the owners of the soil which they own and occupy and none other may hold it. The same law has been held from the oldest times."Once again, we reiterate that the Kanienkehaka Nation has never relinquished our absolute sovereignty over our territories, nor have we given the United States the authority to impose taxation within our territory vis a vis New York State, nor have we ever given up our economic right to survive.
cc. President Bill Clinton