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News stories tagged with "indian"

Bear Clan Mother, Tewakierahkwa, or "Mama Bear"
Bear Clan Mother, Tewakierahkwa, or "Mama Bear"

Recovering the ancient role of women in Akwesasne

Women are the traditional leaders in Iroquois culture. Their models of government and leadership were seeds for the U.S. Constitution and the women's suffrage movement. But the reservation system, Indian boarding schools, and racism helped weaken the matrilineal connection among the Iroquois people. This weekend, a hundred Iroquois women will convene at a heritage center in Akwesasne. They'll use conversation and sweat lodges, and also Power Point and Facebook, to try to reassert women's traditional roles amidst the fast pace of modern life. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
The abandoned port of entry on Cornwall Island.
The abandoned port of entry on Cornwall Island.

Border agent standoff lingers on Cornwall Island

The Canadian government announced Tuesday it will begin building a new bridge between Cornwall and Cornwall Island next spring. The lower, shorter span will open up acres of land along the St. Lawrence River. City of Cornwall and Mohawk officials applauded the project, which will cost $75 million.

We'll have more next week on what the new bridge could mean for the ex-paper mill town of Cornwall. Construction was to have begun last summer.

But a standoff between Canadian border officials and Akwesasne Mohawks delayed the project and led to the closure of the customs checkpoint on Cornwall Island. The dispute over arming border agents shut down the international bridge between Cornwall and Massena for six weeks.

Today, Canada still operates a make shift checkpoint in the city of Cornwall. Locals report delays of up to two hours. Canadian and tribal officials haven't met in months. And Mohawks on Cornwall Island say they're stuck in a netherworld between two borders. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)
Mike Hennessey (D-Sherill)

Oneida Democrat seeks to unseat Griffo

A three-term Oneida County legislator wants to unseat Republican State Senator Joe Griffo. Democrat Mike Hennessey lives in the city of Sherill, which has been embroiled in land claim and cigarette tax issues with the Oneida Indian Nation. So it's no surprise Hennessey wants New York to collect taxes on tobacco sold at native-owned stores as a way to close the state deficit. He also wants to eliminate unfunded state mandates, reform state ethics codes, and create jobs. Hennessey is a financial advisor and former small business owner. He told David Sommerstein a visit to a local soup kitchen for veterans compelled him to run for State Senate.  Go to full article

Paterson wades into tobacco tax controversy

Facing a more than $7 billion deficit, Governor Paterson is plumbing even long-shot revenue sources to make up the spending gap - things like the so-called "obesity tax" on soft drinks. Another is collecting tobacco taxes from the state's Indian Nations. Initial reaction from tribal chiefs suggests Albany shouldn't expect the money anytime soon. As David Sommerstein reports, Paterson has been reluctant to tread where past Governors have failed.  Go to full article

Canada stands by Mohawk check-in at border

Canada will continue to impound cars and impose fines on Mohawks who don't check in with customs officers in Cornwall, Ontario. Five vehicles have been seized in the last week. Canada's border agency resumed the controversial policy last Friday after a grace period. Akwesasne Mohawk leaders say tribal members are being punished for last summer's stand-off that closed the border crossing for six weeks. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Mohawks prefer diplomacy in tobacco tax fight

Last year, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-natives buy cigarettes at native-owned stores. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But like his three predecessors, Paterson's administration said last week it will not try to collect the taxes. Remember when the Seneca Nation burned tires on the Thruway when then-Governor George Pataki tried to collect them? The whole issue is knotted up in lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe. Two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the now cloudy case of tobacco taxes and native tribes. Jim Ransom says there's an easy solution - sit down and talk. Ransom is chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. The Mohawks are at odds with New York State over three issues - the cigarette taxes, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills. Ransom says one agreement can resolve them all.  Go to full article

Border re-opens; Mohawks not alerted

For the first time in six weeks, the general public could cross the border between Massena and Cornwall, Ontario yesterday morning. Canada set up a temporary checkpoint on the Cornwall end of the bridge. The move brought relief to a region that's been hammered economically by the closure. But it also raised new questions about long-term fixes for the port of entry. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Mohawks protest arming Canadian customs agents

Mohawks are gearing up for a fight with the Canadian border agency. Canada will begin arming its customs officers on June 1st. But Mohawks say the step is inappropriate at the port of entry on Cornwall Island, which is tribal territory and a residential area. A protest is planned for Saturday. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
The 1851 letter.
The 1851 letter.

1851 letter holds more mystery than answers for Mohawks

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is hoping an 1851 letter it recently acquired will shed light on ownership of former tribal land. But right now the document raises more questions than answers. The tribe bought the letter from Gregory Caron of Hopkinton for $1000. Caron bought it at an auction for the same price. The letter is written in dense legalese. It makes a case for British settlers to pay the tribe years of back rent for using Barnhart and Baxter Islands in the St. Lawrence River. The Mohawks owned the islands until they were ceded to the United States (without Mohawk consent) after the war of 1812. Today, Barnhart Island is the home of the massive New York Power Authority hydropower dam across the St. Lawrence. Arnold Printup is the historic preservation officer for the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. He spoke to David Sommerstein about the letter and its significance.  Go to full article

Report ties organized crime, drugs to Akwesasne tobacco trafficking

A new report details the billion dollar trafficking of untaxed cigarettes into Canada from the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation near Massena. The investigation by the Center for Public Integrity documented 5 to 10 unlicensed tobacco factories in Akwesasne and on the Kahnawake reserve near Montreal.

Smugglers carry cigarettes across the Canadian border and sell them in Ontario and Quebec for $20 a carton. A legally taxed carton costs $80 to $90. The Canadian government estimates it is losing $1.6 billion a year in taxes while health care costs associated with smoking are rising. William Marsden of the Montreal Gazette reported the story. He told David Sommerstein the tobacco smuggling has attracted more organized crime and drugs to an already porous region of the U.S.-Canada border.  Go to full article

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