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DEC 16 - DEC 24, 2014

John Kane True Champion of Native Sovereignty

By Tony Farina

December 16, 2014

John Kane, activist, writer, radio host and fighter for Native American rights.

John Kane is a familiar name and face when it comes to Native issues, not only locally but across the state and the nation.

While he is often regarded in Western New York as a leading voice of the Seneca Nation, in fact Kane is a Mohawk who lives on the Cattaraugus Territory of the Senecas and enjoys a direct connection to the people and territories of the Six Nations.

When it comes to the issue of Native sovereignty, Kane is a champion who carries the message "we are constantly fighting for our rights" against leaders who don't give us the respect we deserve.

As an example of that kind of thinking, Kane points to recent remarks (Dec. 10) by Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar who referred to American Indians as "wards of the federal government." Gosar's comment came at a meeting about a controversial Arizona land deal and drew a strong response from Phil Stago, a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Stago said of Gosar's comments: He kind of revealed the truth--the true deep feeling of the federal government: 'Tribes, you can call yourselves sovereign nations, but when it comes down to the final test, you're not really sovereign because we still have plenary power over you.'"

"That kind of thinking is what we are up against across the country and right here in New York," says Kane, referring to efforts by the state government to squeeze the life out of tax-free cigarette sales of the Seneca brand on Indian land.

Kane makes the comparison to the death of Eric Garner in New York City: "Now that the NYPD has literally been caught on video choking a man to death for defying the most oppressive taxation scheme in the United States and then exonerated itself of any wrongdoing, it's time to make a few things clear."

Kane says Garner was with the majority of the state's tobacco consumers who vote with their wallets every day. "Hell! Every bar and bodega in New York City has loose cigarettes behind the bar and the cops know it. So letting an established business beat the system is okay but apparently the line gets drawn in front of a black man in his neighborhood.

Kane says that 56.9 percent of all cigarettes consumed in New York State are smuggled in from out of state. "And this doesn't include Native or reservation sales. Those aren't smuggled. They are just sold outside the state's reach on sovereign Native lands and the state is trying its damnedest to choke that out too."

In a letter on the issue written for Indian Country, Kane said: "Aggressive tax enforcement may have resulted in the choking death of Eric Garner but Andrew Cuomo had better work on a much stronger grip if he thinks he will succeed in choking out Native tobacco. The Native tobacco industry will not lie down for the Governor, his courts or his cops."

John Kane is not paid by the Seneca Nation to speak out on Native issues but survives on the money he earns from advertisers, from speaking engagements, and from contributors who support his powerful voice on Native issues. He is married and the father of three children, a one-man crusade on behalf of Native causes and an articulate and personal gentleman who realizes that he must keep on pushing his crusade to help raise awareness to accomplish meaningful change.

"We've come a long way to go, but there is still much to be done," he says, and there's no doubt you'll be seeing and hearing from John Kane sometime soon.

John Kane hosts two weekly radio shows, one of which is heard locally on ESPN Sports Radio WWKB-AM 1520 on Sunday nights. John also hosts a weekly show in New York City (WBAI-FM 99.5), is a national commentator on Native issues, and has a very active "Let's Talk Native…with John Kane" Facebook group page.

I've had the pleasure of appearing with John on local television broadcasts and was a guest on his radio show, and there is no stronger voice for Native sovereignty or crusader for Native rights than John Kane.





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Contact Info

©2014 The Niagara Falls Reporter Inc.
POB 3083, Niagara Falls, N.Y. 14304
Phone: (716) 284-5595

Publisher and Editor in Chief: Frank Parlato
Managing Editor: Dr. Chitra Selvaraj
Senior Editor: Tony Farina