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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From the Native American Times:

One Nation goes public
Group opposed to Indian rights

SAM LEWIN 5/2/2003

"One Nation", an organization recently formed to fight tribal sovereignty, said this week they are concerned over water and land rights that, they say, favor Indians over other groups.

The Native American Times has been reporting on One Nation since they sent out a flyer in March soliciting contributions. Until this week, they have laid low: repeated calls to all listed members of the organization went unreturned. Thursday, several One Nation figures spoke to an Oklahoma newspaper.

One Nation counts the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers Association, Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Southern Oklahoma Water Alliance among its contributors.

"One Nation sees a real threat of tribal governments usurping both land and water rights across the state", Water Alliance President Charlette Hearn told the Tulsa World.

The Southern Oklahoma Water Alliance, formed in 2001, has a history of battling tribal issues. The group's website say it's number one goal is to oppose the compact between the State of Oklahoma and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations.

Representatives from the Choctaws and Chickasaws could not be reached for comment.

The Native American Times contacted Hearn Friday. When told the purpose of the call, Hearn claimed her phone was cutting out and she couldn't hear the reporter. She then hung up. Other calls Friday to organizations affiliated with One Nation also went unreturned. But the group apparently now has the attention of some Native leaders, and is prompting at least one of them to issue a call for action.

"This would be a good time for tribes to get together and defend ourselves against these allegations", said Osage Principal Chief Jim Gray. "This group is a threat to undermine the good relationship we have built with the state and it's people. A group like this could set race relations back 20 years."

"No one is suggesting tribes shouldn't compete in the marketplace", One Nation member Jeramy Rich, a Lincoln County rancher, told the Tulsa World. "We are suggesting laws shouldn't be structured so that tribal businesses enjoy a huge competitive advantage over non-tribal businesses."

From the Shawnee News-Star, 5/9/03:

'One Nation' seeks tribal pact changes
SNS Staff Writer

A group claiming to represent 180,000 Oklahoma families hopes to change the way the state negotiates tribal compacts and try to end practices that it claims create an "unlevel playing field"that favors tribal-operated businesses.

One Nation members delivered a letter to Gov. Brad Henry's office Monday asking him to stop compact negotiation talks and instead hold public meetings about tribal compacts and their impact.

The letter reads, "previous compacts between the state and Indian tribes have been virtually ineffective."

According to the letter, research by the coalition shows that the state loses as much as $150 million in tobacco tax revenues every year because, "tribal smoke shops are flouting the law by selling cigarettes and other products not just to tribal members but to the general public."

Founding members of One Nation include the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, the Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers Association, Oklahoma Farm Bureau and the Southern Oklahoma Water Alliance.

The Oklahoma Farm Bureau, the biggest member of the coalition, represents more than 150,000 families, said One Nation co-founder Mickey Thompson, who also serves as executive vice president of the OIPA.

He said the OIPA represents 1,400 companies with about 30,000 employees and the OPMA represents convenience store and gas station operators.

"The different parts of the coalition have very different concerns,"Thompson said. "But all of us came together over the water debate last spring."

Gov. Frank Keating's 2001 water compact with the Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes included a plan to sell water to Texas.

Thompson said the compact would have locked Oklahoma into a 100-year contract with Texas and would have given one-half of the money earned to the tribes.

"We didn't think it was right."

"Many of us are concerned that tribally owned businesses have a competitive advantage over other businesses,"Thompson said.

"All you've got to do is drive around Shawnee to see that,"he said.

"This is not anti-Indian at all,"said Thompson, who said One Nation will not address government health, education and housing programs for tribes.

The focus is tribally owned businesses, he said.

Thompson said he and the group want to, "shine a light on some of these issues so Oklahomans can know why we have this budget shortfall."

John Barrett, chairman of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, disagreed with Thompson's view that tribal businesses have unfair advantages that hurt local and state revenues, and called One Nation's attempts "mean-spirited."

"(Their) definition of a level playing field is us eating commodities again,"he said.

Barrett said the tribe is the largest employer in Tecumseh and Shawnee, and generates $56 million for the local economy.

He said that tribally owned businesses like FireLake grocery and entertainment complex and the First National Bank benefit the local community.

"Ninety-nine cents on every dollar spent with an Indian tribe stays in town,"Barrett said.

"If Pottawatomie County wants their tax dollars back, buy Indian,"he said.

"If you want 100 percent American, then shop Indian."

Barrett added that Impact Aid funds received by area school districts exceeds any loss in ad valorem taxes, and that Pottawatomie County receives $40,000 every year in ad valorem taxes from the First National Bank.

Complaining that Shawnee and Tecumseh do not receive taxes from tribal businesses is like complaining they do not get taxes from Arkansas, Barrett said.

"We are not in those communities. We were here in 1867, as an organized government and our taxing authority predates that of the state of Oklahoma,"he said.

"All the Oklahoma Legislature has to do to level the playing field is to authorize the same gaming to non-Indians as Indians, and allow them to compete,"he said.

Attempts to reach leaders of other tribes were unsuccessful.

From the Native American Times:

One Nation leader receives death threats

Sam Lewin 5/28/2003

The co-founder of One Nation says he has received death threats, but believes the group is fighting for a fair cause.

Mickey Thompson, also Executive Vice President of The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association (OIPA), spoke with the Native American Times at length about the controversial organization. He says economic frustration led oil drillers and retailers to form One Nation.

"It's a combination of things. The problems that are being experienced by the oil and gas industry. Our organization [OIPA] saw serious threats to our ability to do business in Oklahoma. The OPMA (Oklahoma Petroleum Marketers Association) is worried about the un-level playing field primarily because of the tobacco tax situation. They think tribes are selling cigarettes illegally,"said Thompson. "No one is saying 'don't have smoke shops here', we say the law is the law if you're on the north side of the street or on the south side of the street."

Some might say Thompson does not come off as a wild racist, rather someone with opinions that happen to be at odds with just about every tribal leader in the country. That he is even talking to a reporter from this newspaper sets him apart from most One Nation figures that seem to believe silence is the best policy. Thompson even apologizes for them.

"I think there was a hesitancy.there is a concern that your paper is not going to tell both sides anyway so why waste your breath?"

Thompson's side is that he firmly believes courts have misinterpreted the issue of tribal sovereignty, and he says nowhere has that been more apparent than in Oklahoma.

"We simply disagree on definition and reach of sovereignty. We don't believe that tribes should be able to hold competitive advantages and keep their taxes unless it's on trust land or reservation land and in our opinion there are no reservations in Oklahoma, except for the Osages. The Osages have a claim as opposed to what we used to call the Five Civilized Tribes before it wasn't politically correct."

Although Thompson gives a concession, in this case "the Osages have a claim", he adds: "Tribes should be required by the federal government to work in concert with the state. If the tribes are going to be partners with the community, as they claim they want to be, they are going to have to pay a fair share and I don't mean a pittance."

Many in Oklahoma's Native American community are leery of a group whose sole purpose is to battle tribal sovereignty. Months of stonewalling by One Nation figures such as Mike Cantrell and Rusty Shaw helped create the impression that One Nation is synonymous with "anti-Indian."Thompson says he has received death threats and knows some call him a racist.

"Those people are entitled to their opinion. Like they say-opinions are like noses-everyone has one. Nobody from One Nation has called anyone names; there is no place for name-calling. I don't pay much attention to people who call me a racist. It's a cheap shot."

Thompson says that if One Nation were racist they would go after "entitlement programs that bring in billions of dollars."

"Look, I've been around Ada and I saw the quality of life in Ada improve dramatically. Some of my best friends as a kid were Indians and I saw them live in poverty. I think Governor [Bill] Anoatubby of the Chickasaw Nation has done a good job with nutrition, education and scholarship programs."

Thompson said that if you include the OIPA and OPMA and it's various supporters, One Nation has 180 thousand members. He says the group has raised under a quarter of a million dollars since it began fundraising.

"We are not a fly by night, hit or miss deal".

Rob's reply
One Nation—or at least, the only member of One Nation willing to speak on the record—says the group isn't anti-Indian. But challenging Native sovereignty means challenging a major reason why the US hasn't assimilated or terminated its Native people. That's anti-Indian indirectly even if it isn't anti-Indian directly.

Sovereignty is based on the Constitution, hundreds of treaties, and well-established federal law. It's no more an "un-level playing field" or "special treatment" than the federal authority over states or state authority over counties and cities. It's unfair in the same sense that it's unfair 34-year-olds can't run for president and 17-year-olds can't vote. (Why can't they do these things? Because the Constitution says so.)

If One Nation doesn't like what the Constitution says, it can (try to) amend it. If it doesn't like what hundreds of treaties say, it can urge Congress to give back the Indians' land to them. Good luck with either tactic.

Note the scare tactics used in One Nation's brochure that aren't on its website. "The threat"..."schools" listed first, as if Indians are attacking America's children..."overreaching." Why is the brochure more inflammatory than the website? Perhaps because One Nation has some control over who it distributes its brochure to, whereas the whole world can see its website. The latter has to be less inflammatory if One Nation doesn't want to come across as racist.

You have to wonder why One Nation's members won't identify themselves or speak freely with the press if their beliefs are so fair-minded and unprejudiced. The lack of openness almost speaks for itself. Those who have nothing to be ashamed of don't act as if they're ashamed.

Also note that One Nation's economic premise is flawed. It assumes that every dollar spent on inexpensive Indian tobacco would otherwise be spent on expensive non-Indian tobacco. Probably not. Rather, if people couldn't buy tobacco cheaply, they would simply forgo many of their purchases. So the revenues and taxes being "lost" are much less than what One Nation claims.

One Nation is using the same argument software and music companies have used against illegal copying of their products. It isn't true for these products and it isn't true for Indian products, either. If you couldn't install one copy of Microsoft Office on your three home computers, would you buy three copies? Probably not. (You'd make one computer the official MS Office station and use cheap alternatives for the other two.) If you couldn't download a song from a CD you liked, would you spend $20 for the new CD? Probably not. (You'd get a copy from a friend or buy the CD used or wait till the song showed up in a compilation.)

So One Nation's estimates of the revenues being lost are totally bogus. And since taxes are based on revenue, One Nation's estimates of the taxes being lost are also totally bogus.

Related links
The facts about tribal sovereignty
The facts about Indian gaming

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