May 13/97: Seneca elder & faithkeeper speaks out


Speech On New York State Taxation and the Economic Assault on the Haudenosaunee

- posted to sovernet-L by Ishgooda

by Esther Sundown
Speech given at a public forum in Rochester, NY on May 13, 1997

I'm the Faith Keeper of my People's religion.

In the first place, this country belonged to our Indian People. When the white man set foot on this continent, everything went haywire. Now, they're trying to push us into the ground, like you stomp out a cigarette butt. Pataki, is not a man. He doesn't have a heart... he doesn't have a brain... he has no respect for the mother race of this continent.

I'll tell you something. Where are your factories and your businesses? They' re leaving because of Mr. Pataki. Where are the businesses? They took the businesses out of here because every time you turn your head there's tax increases. Now, the Indians are poorer because of that man. There were people with little children that went to the welfare department to get help. They got turned away! Some of the women are pregnant and are waiting for their babies to come into this world. Because of that man, they're going down. Is that what you want? You'd better go back and talk to that man. We're human beings! We are the Creator's People! We are the First People!

And you! You cry about the business you've got?

All right, but when I was ten years old, a United States Government Agent came to New York State. My father was the Chief of the Tonawanda Senecas. They had a meeting there. These two guys asked those chiefs, (some of them couldn't speak English) so we had an interpreter, he was an attorney, an Indian he had to translate what those two were saying. Those two wanted the Indians to start self sufficiency. Put businesses on the Reservations. And those chiefs shook their heads and the Interpreter said, " You know what that means, that means no." Then they talked and they said, "What's going to happen in a few years, if we put businesses here? They'll be taxing us and If they tax us with our businesses, they're going to tax the Lands." That's what he's working on. I heard what he said right here. I'm not an educated woman, but I know what you're saying. You, what you said, everybody. I went to school and graduated with honors on the Reservation. We were happy there.

Why are you crying about these small businesses on the Reservations? Why? You NEVER pay up what you owe the Indian People! NEVER! You owe us a lot of money. Figure that one out! I'm so sad that these people are like that. You go back to Mr. Pataki and tell him what I said. He should be impeached! They understand (the people in the audience), why not Mr. Pataki? All he wants is his God almighty dollar for his pockets!

Figure this one out. He's got Lotteries all over the place. What the hell has he done with that money? He said when he started the Lotteries that he was going to help the schools. That's a lot of bull! Buffalo is suffering now because of him. They're closing some of those schools. The teachers aren't getting paid.

This is what I have to say. I'm sorry that I say it loud, but it's the truth!

One activist's opinion on the escalation at Seneca:


I am not all surprised...I have been to Allegeny and know the terrain...

I have felt for several weeks now that this situation with NY State is approaching the "critical mass" far as the average person is concerned, no one knows or cares about what is happening...

The Governor of NY has a loaded gun to the head of the Seneca People and he is keeping it there...what adds to everyone's frustration is the way in which the press and news services are compliant with the "news blackout"...if there is no "blood spilled" there is no news...

The Seneca Nation needs a mediator and so far the President of the United States has shirked his responsibility under the Constitution...I have reports everyday of NYS Trooper movement to the West...they almost go in caravans there are so many of them...if there is no movement from the extreme soon, the phrase "'s a good day to die..." will have a whole new meaning...

I am sorry to sound so pessimistic, but I have been in this from day 1...

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