Pulling the Constitution Strings of the St. Regis Mohawk?

©by Doug George-Kanentiio

In the 1930’s the National Socialist Workers Party in Germany forced the government to hold a series of referendums in an effort to secure power despite having been rejected by the voters in previous elections.

The Nazis knew they had to have some kind of popular mandate before they moved to assume complete control over Germany. They had failed to receive a majority vote and were forced to enter into forming alliances with minor parties.

It took a fabricated national emergency beginning with the burning of the Reichstag (parliament building) for the Nazis to suppress the freedoms of the people. Using fear as a propaganda tool the Nazis held one final public vote in which they received overwhelming support to combat domestic and alien threats to the state.

The people did not learn, until after the Second World War, of this duplicity as they exchanged freedom for an illusionary sense of security.

Now no one can compare the St. Regis Tribal Council with the Nazis but the use of referendums to secure power and hide other agendas is exactly what is taking place now. The 1995 constitution was rejected not only by those who cast votes but by a vast majority of the Mohawk people who refused to get caught in the Tribal trap: either way one voted the Tribe could claim it had the recognition it needed to claim sole representative authority on behalf of those Mohawks who live south of the 45 parallel.

The rejection did not put an end to the matter but provoked years of litigation as the constitution advocates once again showed legal hypocrisy by asking the US courts to reverse the vote and place their leaders in power. This decision ceded to the Americans the right to determine who would lead the Tribe, something the constitution promoters pledged to refute as they sought to define our sovereignty in ways which would enrich them and their friends.

The Tribe is now dusting off this controversy and thereby disturbing the peace at Akwesasne. But why?

There are hidden players in this act who need to be brought into the light before the vote takes place.

It should come as no surprise that Empire Resorts may well be a major factor in this. That organization failed to empower a group of Cayugas into forming a “tribal council” which would then be manipulated into signing a Catskills casino compact. That tactic left the Cayugas bitterly divided after Empire sponsored a bogus referendum to create the “Cayuga Tribe” and lost.Empire has no loyalty to anything Iroquois, and certainly has little regard for the Mohawk people.

It is obvious the Tribal Council here needs clearly defined authority to move ahead with the Catskills deal.

The Tribe needs the power to enter into contract and to cede Mohawk lands and jurisdiction. It needs to become a “corporation” similar to the Oneida Nation of New York if it is to secure the massive loans necessary to build the casino. And it needs this ‘corporation” to take title to the Catskills land upon which the casino will be located.

Empire may be uneasy about the current deal since the Tribe’s own regulations severely restrict its governing powers. Empire knows, as do we all, that the Tribe is a New York State agency and must have true Native sovereignty if it is to make the casino a reality. This can only come from a popular vote, hence the referendum.

So Empire wants the constitution to pass. Empire needs the constitution to pass. Empire is not concerned about the internal chaos the constitution will provoke; it is in the business of making money and if the St. Regis Tribe fails to meet its needs it will search for some other vulnerable Indian group, just as it did when it abandoned the Cayugas.

The referendum itself must be stopped altogether until the people have had a chance to demand the Tribe respond to their concerns.

Why now? What is Empire’s role in this? Who are these people? is there any connection between Empire and tribal officials? Who stands to profit from this?

Two generations ago our Mohawk veterans fought, and some died, to defeat those who would strip away the freedom of the people. We hopefully learned from the mistakes of others, such as the Germans, to hold our leaders accountable and to respond to the public’s trust with the highest respect.

This is called Mohawk Nation ethics, something this current constitution glaringly omits. Plus, the Tribe forgot one critical factor in persuading people to give up their rights: fear. They neglected to manufacture a crisis, one in which we compromise our rationality in a rush to restore ‘law and order”. While there is no crisis now there certainly will be if the constitution passes.

There will be those who vote in the referendum, should it be held. But to those who refuse to take part in a loaded contest it is essential to speak with the voters and express your concerns.

We all know of someone who will cast a ballot. We know the US will acknowledge a constitutional administration since it will serve Washington’s interests. We know Empire Resorts will be overwhelmed with joy in anticipation of the money it will make at our expense.

We alos know our community will be torn apart because of external manipulations-again. If you do oppose the constitution let your relatives and friends know why.

This is no time to be passive.