Reports on Apr 20 rally against NY taxes on Haudenosaunee



Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 20:07:32
From: C. Anthony Harding
To: nativeweb
Subject: Seneca Tobacco and Fuel Tax Situation

This is a press release from the American Indian Movement in Cleveland, OH
Dated Monday April 21, 1997:

Cattaraugus Indian Reservation - On Sunday April 20, 1997 a group of 1,000 peaceful Seneca protesters shut down the New York Thruway. This protest turned into a violent confrontation after New York State Troopers attempted to forcefully remove the protesters with the use of pepper mace and batons.

The protest is for the violation of the Sovereign treaty rights of the Seneca Nation. Governor Pataki's tax policy is to force the Senecas to collect sales tax on gasoline and cigarettes sold on their reservation land. The state of New York has cordoned off the entire region and are arresting any native American Indian attempting to enter or leave the region. Several individuals attempting to walk out of the area to get to their place of employment have been arrested and subject to abuse at the hands of officials. At this time a temporary restraining order has been issued to allow heating oil only into the region. Failure of the Senecas to sign an agreement with the state of New York that violates their treaty rights have resulted in massive unemployment on the reservation and hardships for the small business owners. No news reports have been broadcast or printed due to the black out by the state officials. Thousands of motorists that have been diverted off the Thruway believe the cause to be road work. Road work it is, but it's not being conducted by the State Employees......

We were asked to post this for your information. Anyone wishing more information can E-mail me.

Thank you


Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 11:11:12 -0400
To: serendipity-L
Subject: Participant Notes: anti-NY State Sales Tax demonstration
From: Grey Wolf

I was in attendance at the Weekend anti-NY State Sales Tax demonstration this weekend at the Cattaraugus Reservation. I also heard about it this morning on the local radio. I do not agree with the morning radio news cast.

The demonstrators assembled at one of the large rez gas and smoke shops on the rez. There were many non-Indian supporters in the crowd that I would estimate between 1200 and 1500 people. The march lined up just outside of the rez bridge leading into the rez proper. The Iroquois Veterans Assoc. lead the demonstration behind the Eagle Staff. My friend and I (a Cree) were honored by the veterans when they asked us to carry their banner at the front of the people. I remarked to my friend how was it that a Cree and a Passamaquoddy carried the banner for the Iroquois vets. Well, one step for uniting the Nations.

The demo moved across the bridge and into the rez proper. This was the 1st time that I had ever danced to the beat of the drum while entering a reservation at the head of a parade. We danced/marched north up rts. 5 & 20 to a 2nd gas/smoke shop. There the marchers reformed and marched to the NY State Thruway and onto the pavement, halting traffic in both directions. We all walked to the center of the bridge spanning Cattaraugus Creek at the boundry of the rez.

At that moment in time there was a single NY State Police car parked on the west side of the thruway about 1/2 mile south of the bridge. The marchers filled both sides of the thruway. Several speeches were made by the organizers. There was much support from the vehicles on the road that had halted. Flyers were passed out and everything was going well. The speeches had been made, the flyers were being passed out and the people had made their statement.

It was at this point that the NY State Police made a serious tactical error. The single police car mentioned before had radioed in and at least 20 more NYSP cars began showing up from the south. Since no more traffic had backed up on the thruway, it was obvious that they had closed the road and were diverting traffic in both directions around the rez between exits 57A and 59. # of the NYSP cars were driven up from the south, across the non-rez side of the bridge and onto the rez side of the bridge. The marchers moved forward to meet them.

When the marchers moved toward the cars, the NYSP drivers stopped and abandoned the vehicles on the rez side of the bridge. At this point in time, the NYSP violated a standard training police procedure. The drivers left their vehicles with all of the doors unlocked and one vehicle's windows were rolled down.

Here is where some of the younger Native people made a serious error. They proceded to remove items, including personal items from the vehicles and throw them on the pavement. One young person attacked the cars with a trenching tool, doing some damage. At least 6 NYSP officers are now without their hats and many batons.

While I was part of and understand the emotions and frustrations of the marchers, I cannot in good conscience, condone the damage done to the police property. My criticisms fall on both sides of the line.

For the NYSP side, I must lay blame for what happened on the shoulders of Governor Pataki and the NYSP Commanding officer of the Troop assigned to that area. All of the NYSP vehicles should have been kept at a safe distance south of the thruway bridge.

In retrospect, I can only conclude that the actions of the NYSP drivers was a "planned" and baited trap set for the Native people. When the vehicles were driven onto and abandoned on the bridge, they were suspiciously "clean" of much "normal" police equipment including weapons. This mornings radio news reports said that 12 NYSP cars had been damaged, but only 3 were on the bridge. I also suspect that there were several NYSP "plants" in attendance in the crowd, trying to stir up trouble.

What was missing from the Native side was effective leadership from the Chiefs and Clan Mothers. The rally organizers were effective up to the point where the NYSP cars were driven onto the bridge. After this, control of the crowd was beyond their means and the "heat of the moment" emotions overcame some of the younger, less experienced Natives.

I was pleased to see at least 4 American Indian Movement jackets in the crowd. I believe that these were Canadian brothers.

It is my understanding that there will be another protest next weekend. In this one I can only hope for more leadership from Tribal leaders who support the protest and if possible, some leadership from AIM.

My apologies for the length of this post. But I was there.

Grey Wolf

PS: I knew that I forgot something......When the NYSP abandoned the 3 cars on the bridge, the other "bad judgment" violation of police procedure that they were guilty of was, "they also left the keys to the cars in the ignition", with the doors unlocked and windows rolled down. See what I mean by a set up?


Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 23:54:29 (EDT)
To: serendipity-L
Subject: Fwd: Indian Treaty Rights VS NYS

It is always a good sign, when people can think more openly.

One of the reasons I was looking through profiles keyword indian is because I am a Seneca Indian living in western new york and for the last 3 weeks we have been at "war" with NYS. Gov. Pataki has stopped all shipments of gas and cigarettes to our native merchants on the reservation because we refuse to charge sales tax and pay it to NYS. You see, being indigenous to these lands, we have treaties that state we are a sovereign land and subject to Federal Law and Seneca Nation Law, Not NYS law. We have our own President and Police department, health care and schools. But to get back to the point NYS is in violation of these treaties. Our nation was held captive yesterday, surrounded with state troopers, who wouldn't let people on or off the reservation. Which, is in violation of state law. There is local coverage in Buffalo.

You probably havn't heard about this because there isn't any national coverage. We are asking people to help us by 1) spreading the word and 2) calling these national news agentcies to ask for coverage of the dispute between the Seneca's and NYS.

abc 212-456-7777
nbc 212-664-4444
cbs 212-975-3247
cnn (fax only) 404-681-3578

Also we ask that you call the white house comment line which is 202-456-1414 when asked to listen to the issues menu press 0, because the indian tax issue isn't listed. State that you have heard about this issue and would like the President to give it his attention.

Finally, spread the word ("Drums along the Allegany") to all those who are interested and ask them to do the same.

Of course it is more than a tax issue. It is the issue that we have a treaty with the federal government, and NYS needs to remember this.

Native Americans, we exist, yet, today!!!

Thank-you for your time.

Nawah Skano (I honor you, You are strong)



[SISIS note: The following mainstream news articles are provided for reference only. They may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]


Date: 97-04-20 18:06:58 EDT

The Associated Press

CATTARAUGUS INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (AP) - About 1,000 American Indians and their supporters briefly blocked traffic on the New York State Thruway Sunday to protest the state's collection of sales tax on Indian land.

"This is our land. This Thruway is ours," said Indian businessman Art Schindler, brother of Seneca Nation President Michael Schindler.

The demonstration started off peacefully along the side of the Thruway, but a handful of protesters later lit tire fires and scuffled with state troopers in the middle of the road.

Protesters also blocked nearby Route 5 and U.S. Route 20. State police detoured traffic around them.

Several minor injuries were reported.

Protesters and police approached each other to negotiate when fighting broke out.

"They tried to come over to talk to us, but we're just way past that now," Art Schindler said. "I can't control anybody's reactions. Nobody wanted to hear them."

Last Sunday, about 200 protesters blocked the Thruway for about 45 minutes in the same spot on reservation land about 25 miles south of Buffalo.

The Seneca Nation of Indians and the St. Regis Mohawk Nation are still without an agreement with the state over taxes on gasoline and cigarettes sold to non-American Indians. The state has reached a temporary agreement with six other tribes.


Monday April 21 4:52 PM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y., April 21 (UPI) -- One person is in the hospital and eight people are under arrest from a scuffle between New York state troopers and tax protesters at the Seneca Nation of Indians Cattaraugus ("CAT-ah-rah-gahs") Reservation near Buffalo. The demonstrators tried to block traffic on state roads in the latest of a series of protests over a new state policy forbidding the Senecas from selling tax-free gasoline and cigarettes to non-Indians.

To: serendipity-L
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 10:46:57
Subject: Re: Participant Notes: anti-NY State Sales Tax demonstration
Rebecca Lundberg@MEP
04/22/97 10:46 AM

Here's another picture and article (from CNN interactive) for folks with web access:



From: Gordon Thompson
Date: Mon, 21 Apr 1997 13:39:27
Subject: Re: Participant Notes: anti-NY State Sales Tax demonstration

The importance of your post cannot be underestimated. All Channel 4, NYC had last night was there was a "Tax Protest Riot" and ten seconds of flags and cops scuffling. No real coverage.

It should be noted, this is the FIRST note the big city tv has even made of the tax question.

Your view this was "Bait" would sound right, but the cars were on rez? Seems a double bait.

A major thought here is this is also causing NY money, and money is the name of the game. All those cars and cops cost money, especially on weekends. If kept up long enough the true intent is seen. If it were only the few bucks tax money involved, the situation would go away as an unwinnable situation, but the REAL GAME is control and subjugation of those irritating Indians down on the Rez.

Date: April 22, 1997 10:04:01 AM
To: serendipity-L
Subject: Re: Participant Notes: anti-NY State Sales Tax demonstration

You may also want to know that there is an AP Press picture floating around to the small local papers (at least here in Massachusetts) of the event. It shows a Native man climbing on top of one of the police cars and another being dragged from it by a State Trooper. A perfect shot to depict the native people there as an angry mob out of control. Mind you this is ALL I've seen about it from any news media.


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