MNN. 4-Jun-97. After a meeting of the 'League of First Nations', a group of Iroquois business and grassroots people, a spokesperson said, "Clearly, we have won an important battle, but we have not won the war. Now that we have reached this point the work is really just beginning". People were cautioned not to fall asleep but to work diligently to make sure they are prepared for whatever may present itself.
The League of First Naitons agreed to set up a procedure in each Iroquois territory so that businesses can contribute financially to the communities, such as one that has been in place on Akwesasne Mohawk Territory for 2 years. "We have to dispel the arguments of New York State that only individuals are benefiting and not the communities. Many business people have been contributing all along but not in a structured way".
It was also pointed out that the business contributions should be divided differently - into the general funds of any properly constituted government, traditional or elected, and to community projects. Also there should be a 'Legal Defense Fund' always in place and a large 'War Chest' should be put together for the future fight. "We should not be afraid to call it a War Chest because New York State and other governments are continually declaring war on us by their actions, and we have to be ready".
Everybody at the meeting realized that the power to win the battle at Onondaga, Cattaraugus, Akwesasne and other Indian communities came mainly from the grassroots sources. Their voice and power has returned. All of these procedures of the Great Law of Peace, the Iroquois Constitution, are being learned, relearned and followed. This is bringing our communities and nations back into balance. These battles since April 1st 1997 have reinforced that.
Most important, "everyone who worked on the NYS tax fight, whether as individuals or entities, contributed to the present victory". NYS Governor Pataki backed off and put a bill forward acknowledging Indian sovereignty and that NYS cannot legally collect taxes from Indians. "The grassroots people who put themselves on the front lines in order to preserve our sovereignty, who were brutally assaulted, arrested and jailed, have to be commended and thanked".
However, full information on the issues must be disseminated at the grassroots of each community and nation, given the brutal attack by NYS Troopers at Onondaga on May 18th which was ordered by the so-called chiefs. On June 2nd the Onondaga People issued a statement condemning "All 15 leaders who signed the Tax Agreements with NYS without the Peoples' consent or knowledge", and all those Clanmothers, faithkeepers and supporters who helped them try to sell out the Confederacy. "The Great Law states that treason is automatic removal from their positions".
The Warriors are a symbol of the power of the people. There are many who stood up but there are many who are still afraid of the treasonous so-called leaders. The tide is changing. New York State is finding out that the Iroquois no longer have blind faith in their collaborators. There are now 5 names on the billboard off Highway 81 at Onondaga listing the traitors of the Iroquois People - Oren Lyons, Irving Powless Jr., Ollie Gibson, Doug George and Joe Heath.
"As for courage, it is the Great Law that makes us that way. When we know our law, then our law guides us on how to make clear decisions using the three principles of peace, righteousness and power. Each one of us then carries out our duty and responsibility in the best interests of our people."