December 15, 2010 - On Thursday, December 16, 2010, President Obama will host the second White House Tribal Nations Conference. As part of President Obama’s ongoing outreach to the American people, this conference will provide leaders from the 565 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration. (President Obama Announces 2010 White House Tribal Nations Conference, The White House, 11/15/2010)
Robert Porter, president of the Seneca Nation tribe of Native Americans in western New York state, will attend and has a message for President Obama. Mr. Porter: “I’d like to see the president not be so timid in his efforts to support and protect Indian country.”
Many Native American reservations historically have suffered mightily from high unemployment and related problems. By contrast, the Seneca Nation is a thriving economy, operating casinos and tobacco businesses, Porter says. Instead of government handouts, he says the Seneca people would benefit from tax relief — a message he will carry to this week’s meeting. “The core of our economy and mentality is one of self-sufficiency. We’re not looking for extensive appropriations programs. We’re looking for tax relief,” Porter told Reuters.
While Porter is at the White House, he hopes to ask for the president's support in the Senecas' fight with New York state over cigarette taxes.
One concession that can not be made: when non-Indians buy tobacco products including cigarettes from Indian outlets they must pay the appropriate taxes. Tobacco use remains the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Cigarette smoking accounts for nearly one-third of all cancer deaths in this country each year.
One of the most effective ways to get people to quit using tobacco is to increase the price.
References: Seneca Nation has message for Obama on taxes, Reuters, 12/14/2010; Seneca Nation President Issues Call to Action Native American Leaders Meet in Washington to Advance Plan for Indian Country - hard copy.
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