Reflections from the Ah­nish­i­nah­bæójib­way (We, the People)


October 12, 1988

Who says Indians don't pay property tax?

by Francis Blake, Jr.
Columnist

“Indians don’t pay taxes.”  That’s what Congressmen, county commissioners, certain political reporters and non-Indians living near reservations like to tell Indians (even though this assertion is rarely printed so openly).  The U.S. Constitution even has a couple of phrases referring to “Indians not taxed.”  This is one more piece of propaganda that needs to be cross-examined; one more myth that needs to be debunked.

The white man says that “nothing is certain but death and taxes,” but this is a feudal European point of view.  Before the white man came to our continents, Indians had never heard of taxes (or jails).  Indians have also never taxed the hordes of European people who have wandered across the oceans to our land in the past 496 years.

There are different categories of taxes, all of which entrench the stratus quo of a non-feudal class system (including the ‘have-nots,’ the people just getting by, and the ‘haves’ who control the money and pay few taxes).  Taxes that Indians pay directly in hard, white cash include income tax, sales tax, utility tax, gasoline tax, tobacco tax and liquor tax.  It is true that Indians are not directly taxed and openly assessed property tax on “trust property” (trusteeship is a European apartheid concept and illegal non-recognition of Indian nations), and some political reporters point this out with regularity while molding public opinion, particularly about welfare.  However, this is a strategic ambiguity—Indians call it “forked-tongue English”—that only reflects a surface appearance.

Taxes are paid with money, U.S. dollars.  How did this money system come about?  The 13 colonies had quite a few printing presses, but went heavily into debt during the Revolutionary War.  Just a few years after the revolution, people started saying “sound as a dollar” (they don’t say that any more, and “a penny saved is a penny earned” (and nobody would work for a penny anymore, either).  Paper money is just so much kindling without collateral to back it up.  What has backed up U.S. Currency during the past 212 years?

Early in the first session of the 1st U.S. Congress, a big scam began: treaty making with Indian nations.  More than 400 treaties were made, and in every one Indians lost a lot of property.  This property backed the U.S. dollar, both as collateral and through direct payments into the U.S. Treasury from the General Land Office, which sold stolen Indian property.  And people say Indians don’t pay property taxes?  The present value of Indian property (even polluted and clear-cut) that has been stolen this way is worth more than the total U.S. dollars that have ever been in circulation.  The real irony is that the few “treaty payments” that were actually made, were made in U.S. dollars backed by Indian property.  If the colonists would have been honest, Indian people would have been a major part of the money system, because it was Indian land and Indian resources which made it possible.  The U.S. could have had all the printing presses in the world, but without collateral, their paper money would have less value than one of Hitler’s Reichmarks after World War II.

Even though the U.S. unilaterally broke off diplomatic relations with Indian nations (after they had stolen almost all our Indian property) by passing a law against making any more treaties (encroachment legislation), the scam continues.

The U.S. government has an idea how much they’re liable for under international law, and so they’re trying to “close the books” by suing themselves under the U.S. government’s “Indian” Claims Commission.  When a person tells a lie, they often have to tell a lot more lies to cover the first lie, and this is exactly what the U.S. government is doing.

In government and government-supported mission boarding schools, we were told that the U.S. dollar was backed by the gold in Fort Knox.  The white teachers and nuns lied to us while calling us “savage” and “uncivilized.”  If basing an economic system on stolen property is “civilized,” then maybe abandoning our identity and taking on the values that the European nomads have shown us isn’t such a good idea.  The gold in Fort Knox came from two places: stolen from Indians (mostly by vagrant Conquistadors who plundered many galleon loads), or else mined from Indian property by roving bands of white immigrants and their indentured slaves.

“Balancing the budget” is something that candidates talk about after every election campaign.  This is either strategic ambiguity or outright lying, or probably both.  Deficit financing is a con game which puts a lot of money into the pockets of certain influential people through interest payments, and the inflation it creates is a politically acceptable way of reducing the real minimum (slave) wage, pensions, middle-class savings accounts, and social security payments.  The U.S. national debt is just another way of entrenching the feudal class system which the roaming immigrants brought with them from Europe.  Big deficits redistribute wealth (the rich get richer), steal from people who aren’t born yet, and create a fraudulent illusion of prosperity when it doesn’t exist.  The last time that the U.S. budget balanced was under President Andrew Jackson.  “Stonewall” Jackson relocated the Cherokee nation in the Trail of Tears.  The Cherokee nation’s stolen land was sold, and the proceeds were used to pay for the Louisiana Purchase, with enough left over to balance the U.S. federal budget.  (And they told us in school that only criminals bought stolen property.)  The land covered by the Louisiana Purchase was, n turn, used as collateral to print more money, which funded armed invasions of Indian nations farther west, and was used to “buy” more Indian property including Alaska.

The tactic of using treaties to steal Indian property whenever the U.S. needed money was used until 1887.  The reason that Abraham Lincoln had people in the western Ojibway nations making treaties during the Civil War was because the Union needed more money.  In 1863, the Red lake Anishinabe Ojibway nation made a treaty with the U.S. in which we ceded over 12 million acres in exchange for “perpetual peace and friendship” between sovereign nations.  This property included the Red River Valley.  General Land Office “sales” of this fertile land financed the last year of the Civil War and paid for Sherman’s march into Atlanta.  After the Civil War was won, the U.s. Congress passed a unilateral “amendment” to the 1863 treaty which abrogated that treaty (the U.S. made only a down payment on this Red Lake Indian land).  However, the U.S. government printing presses are still cranking out dollars with the Red River Valley as collateral.

While social scientists have made whole careers analyzing the “mystique” of tribal economic systems, they don’t look at the hocus-pocus, flim-flam, voodoo, con games and criminal activity in inherent in their own monetary system.  Why would any sane person sell their soul, destroy the earth that sustains them, fight wars, kill their own family, betray human values, for pieces of printed paper?  Because it is Indian property that is used by the U.S. to back U.S. currency, Indian people have a responsibility to speak out against the evils that this currency creates.  What kind of economic system do you have where a priest would threaten people’s spirits with torture forever, if they don’t give his church pieces of printed paper?  Reservation missions still call Indian people “lazy” and “no-good” if we don’t give the church money, but Indian people have never had access to the white man’s money.  He prints it, controls it, and it’s his crooked value system even though stolen Indian property is used as collateral.

Worldwide, U.S. collars are used to create a camouflaged colonial empire based on economic exploitation and on using paper dollars to steal other people’s property.  The U.S. colonial strategy was developed against Indian nations, and continues on the remnants of Indian nations.  The white, feudal dollar economic system is sued to entrench the Bureau of Indian Affairs and their bureaucratic arm, the 1934 I.R.A. tribal councils.  It is used to subsidize “sellouts” (traitors), to create a hidden agenda of forced assimilation and try to create a feudal class system like the noble/serf system that the foreign nomads who stole this continent knew so well.  White dollars are even used to commit genocide: traditional Indian people are denied access to the dollar economic system based on their own stolen and “trust” property, and then, Catch-22, their children are taken away from them and placed in white homes because Indian parents suffer the effects of poverty as planned.  Criminal encroachment legislation by the U.S. Congress has stacked the deck, and uses the white values and white, feudal paper dollar economic system to make them winners and us losers.

The U.S. Congress just passed “Indian gaming” legislation.  What they are saying is, “Dollars belong to whites, not Indians.”  Whites have claimed for a long time that “the power to tax is the power to destroy.”  The Indian gaming bill is just another crooked piece of racist encroachment legislation, another illegal assault on Indian people.  Nobody but the U.S. gave the U.S. Congress (or the states) authority to pass laws governing Indian nations.  Every single “Indian” law (including the June 6, 1924 Citizenship Act) was passed without Indian consent (the 1934 I.R.A. tribal councils are not legitimate Indian government).  All of these encroachment laws are illegal under International Law, and all of them are human rights violations.  Indian people have never been part of any of these laws.  At least some whites are ashamed of the laws that they have passed.  That’s why political science is not taught in reservation schools, is why the corporate media observes a “hands off” policy, and is why the U.S. Congress periodically has white-wash investigations of “Indian Affairs.”

In the Indian way, the Great Creator owns the land.  The people of each Indian nation occupy the land jointly, and are responsible for maintaining the permacultural systems that were so bountiful.  Property tax originated in Indo-European feudal systems: the serfs paid the noblemen, and the nobleman paid the king for “protection.”  Al Capone extended to the pattern to Chicago, and called it “insurance.”  (As Mark Twain wrote, the churches also sell “protection”—they call it indulgences, Mark Twain called it “fire insurance” and we call it “sin tax.”)  The word “county” is a feudal term meaning the land controlled by one nobleman.  Present-day serfs pay in white dollars not in grain, but the idea is the same.  The king condoned bandits and criminal activity—after all people needed some threat so they’d be willing to pay for “protection.”  From an Indian point of view, it doesn’t seem as though this strategy has changed much.  We remember one election year when Bemidji was hailed as a “crime capitol,” and the subsequent funding of a new multi-million dollar jail.  Crime supports the myth that the printed pieces of paper called dollars are valuable—people willing to risk their lives robbing banks are one example.  Crime is a necessary part of the way that the white man governs.  Thousands of hours of propaganda called “crime shows” are broadcast on TV networks each ear.  These provide role models and lessons for future “criminals,” and a background of terror for taxpaying social classes.  The media also encourage drug use (for example, beer commercials), and then crime and whole paramilitary bureaucracies are created through high illegal drug prices.  Criminals terrorize the lower classes and keep them from organizing while the upper class exploits them, justify civilian military operations called “police,” and has been part of the U.S. culture ever since they started printing dollars against stolen Indian property.  Indian people didn’t have criminals and we didn’t need jails.

White people don’t even have clear white man’s title to any land.  Four (five counting the multinational corporations at the top) levels of government claim “eminent domain” over stolen Indian property, and if “landholders” don’t pay their taxes (feudal rent), they lose their right of occupancy.  People living under a paper money economy are slaves—they must sell themselves by the hour instead of being sold by the lifetime, but they still must be sold in order to survive within that system. Welfare, as its tout Franklin Roosevelt told J.D. Rockefeller, is just a buffer to maintain the status quo.  (Communism and Capitalism have their roots in the same feudal structures, and from an Indian point of view there doesn’t seem to be much difference.)

Indian people have been taxed, literally, out of almost all of our property.  Indian resources still support Minnesota’s dollar economy.  The few dollars that do come into Indian hands don’t make it into our pockets (as planned), they go right off the reservations and back into the white economic system.  We don’t even get our fair share of the white cash dollars that we pay in direct taxes. U.S. dollars are the white man’s currency system, and the way it is organized the money returns to upper class White people’s pockets.  U.S. dollars are based on racism and have always used property stolen from Indian people as collateral.  Saying “Indians don’t pay taxes” is parroting malicious propaganda.


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