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The myth of untaxed “Indians”

OHSWEKEN – Canadian media portrays us as greedy, lazy, crooked, thugs that are a burden on the poor Canadian taxpayers. Sun Media, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator, the Brantford Expositor, CKCO, and CHCH are all owned by corporations with interests in terminating Indian rights – by forcing taxation on Indian people and turning us into municipalities.

Pierre Trudeau, Speaking to a crowd of national on the White Papers

OHSWEKEN – Canadian media portrays us as greedy, lazy, crooked, thugs that are a burden on the poor Canadian taxpayers. Sun Media, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator, the Brantford Expositor, CKCO, and CHCH are all owned by corporations with interests in terminating Indian rights – by forcing taxation on Indian people and turning us into municipalities.

That is what the 1969 White Paper, 2013 bill C-45, First Nations Education Act (FNEA), and amendments and getting rid of the Indian Act are all about.

The first attempt to terminate Indigenous rights was through the 1969 White Paper recently spoofed on Facebook.

The first attempt to terminate Indigenous rights was through the 1969 White Paper recently spoofed on Facebook.

That message is repeated constantly to an ignorant Canadian public who have turned hostile to Indigenous peoples’ calls for international justice. Media spin is funny that way.

In fact the opposite is true. We are good natured, hard working people, trying to look after ourselves. And we are doing this with our own money.

Over the past 50 years local services increased but these increases are tied to our economic impact. Years ago when our workforce included domestic workers, farm workers, construction workers, and teachers we were funded for a road grader, cutting weeds, and catching stray dogs.

The local band administration was run by nine public servants.

In the era of Indian self-government we began to diversify our workforce and our economic impact increased – and so too did the funding. The on-reserve population’s role in the money game is now complicated by our impact in the white community.

I rarely worked on-reserve over my career. Like the 80 per cent who work off-reserve I paid tax. I also lived away from home while working and like nearly 12,000 Ohswekenron:nen today spent my money with the settlers.

Estimates published by Six Nation’s business agencies suggests that along with the reported $250-million in excise taxes collected from the tobacco industry, another $500-million is collected through direct and indirect taxation as well as Six Nation’s spending off reserve.

By 2013 the government and non-government workforce on-reserve numbers around 700 public servants who get to spend between $60-$70 million to run the reserve – all paid for by Six Nations’ taxpayers.

Here’s how it works.

Former senior federal government bureaucrat from Six Nations, the late Russ Moses reported that it cost various levels of government 90 cents to deliver 10 cents on each dollar for services that actually reached our people. Simple arithmetic – $60-70 million is sent back to Six Nations to run education, employment and training, health care, social services, public works, and policing.

That works out to ten per cent dollar of the $700-million dollars generated by Six Nations people.

The estimate for “aboriginal” spending is between $5-billion and $10-billion annually from 1990 to 2000, of which 10 cents on the dollar actually reached the Indigenous peoples or between $500-million and $1-billion. The revenue raised directly from indigenous peoples’ economic impacts was estimated by the Canadian Alliance in Solidarity with Nation Peoples (CASNP) in 1991 at $11.5-billion annually.

This does not include a staggering treaty debt.

In 1986 the treaty debt was calculated by Canadian government senior policy analyst Walter Rudnicky at $11.5-trillion from 1763 to 1986 in his “Treaty Implementation Plan”. Rudnicki, who broadcast his research in 1991 on the local radio station, based his calculations on unlicensed resources, taxes collected by Canada and the provinces on land, and land use across the continent.

“They owe you people around $2-and-half-trillion for the land between Montreal and Windsor,” he told local listeners.

Not one cent of white money pays for Six Nations. We pay our own way. And we always have. And as taxpayers we have a voice in how that money is spent. The Six Nations public service is accountable to the Ohswekenron:nen.

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Thohahoken

Thohahoken

Thohahoken Michael Doxtater is a former McGill University professor living at Six Nations.

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14 Comments

  • Hoofstep
    December 27, 2013, 10:47 pm

    What a presentation of treaty history!

    Treaties as expressed were invalid, because the language was inadequate to construct any agreement on.

    Gary Horsnell; I know you have languaged the chronology of the treaties in a way that questions the integrity of the Haudenosaunee, but that will never change whose cultural perspective was grounded in opportunism, and it’s no surprise that what is not even implied in the treaties says more about whose integrity could be called into question. If only the whites had known enough to respectfully acknowledge “we are swarming like bees out of the Continent; we fear you may not be able to contain us. WE may end up eating you up just because we seek our own preservation or expansion; it has its own autonomy (after all, it does); they could have delivered a legeal document with integrity. they failed. The US and Can. governments will only heal this injury by compensating the victims from the heart. Don’t think you don’t need the healin’ as bad as the Tribes. Take a look at the mess we’re all in!

    If you try to sell snow to an eskimo, he’s gonna say “what kind of snow”, right? Because there are like, 21 different kinds, to his mind. And one is good and one isn’t good. maybe you have 20 kinds he knows no self- respecting person would bother with. Therefore, the snow you are offering HAS to be the one good kind he does want. But you don’t know that, because to you, SNOW IS SNOW. So you sell him a load of crappy construction material.

    I think what the indigenous people wer hoping for as a result of signing (or WAMPUMING) “X” agreement, was that any threat that the whites posed to them would cease, as in “OK, we give these fellas a nice piece of land, and any threat they would pose to us is contstrained”.

    Surely that couldn’t have meant the same thing to the white people. “What? Once I have my piece of land, I can’t AT LEAST CROSS Tribal boundaries while engaging in travel or trade or migration or military maneuvers? or any other business”

    The Tribes were hoping for an agreement that would limit the white threat and the whites wanted an agreemtn that limited reprisals on anything that might otherwise (but for a treaty) resemble any threat. TRADE activity NOTWITHSTANDING.

    Regardless whether Europeans knew they were going to keep on coming and need ever more space, for ever, the treaties are not worth the paper they were penned on. maybe the well-educated Government treaty-penners didn’t realize that North American nations didn’t conceive of white populations getting really big and eventually threaten their way of life. But we all know that whites were banking on importing friendly manpower if they couldn’t breed it here. they never said anything about that, and honest to God, that alone could affect the validity of a treaty just like an act of God can affect one’s fortunes even when one is “insured”.

    none of the treaties stated; “there are other white people stomping around these parts and elsewhere that might not care about any papers we signed and we might not have any jusrisdiction over those people, and also we have gazillions of people elsewhere that might decide to come on in and, you know, cut some trees down, put some fences up, upset some ecosystems and generally liven up the cultural landscape; even at the very least there is the almost certain possibility that our population experiment and natural resource extraction may ultimately threaten to destroy of your way of life. Now that would have given the Natives a reason to head for an Oxford
    education prior to signing. they would have loved the history lesson on “Enclosure”.

    When I agree to pay $9.99 for HBO on my cable bill I’m not surprised to see $14.99 when they issue my statement because I DIDNT READ the part about the taxes and licensing fees or what have you. See what I am saying? They SHOULD have told me up front “$14.99!!! But at least, in my case I COuLD have known, because at least it was in the agreement – I just didn’t read it so shame on me. Back then, they couldn’t have known and who was gonna tell them? The guy who writes the treaty text? The provincial govt? Oh gosh….

    I realize that we’re all inexorably drawn into this vortex of change. Ultimately it’s nobody’s fault. But come on! I don’t have a drop of indigenous blood but I know there’s a rat in the language of the treaties – by comission or omission. And I may not have said it so well, but what I have said here is worthy as a point of departure at the very least regarding any of the white man’s ridiculous “legal” agreements with people who make “wampum” ones. Others can flesh it out where I have failed.

    REPLY
  • N8VSON
    December 26, 2013, 9:14 pm

    Still waiting for Garry Horsnell to address the matter of the treaty money, all 11.5 trillion of it, still outstanding as of 1986. Anyone willing to bet Garry is working very hard on getting around to that? When may we expect to hear from you Garry, with your considered and “expert” opinion?

    REPLY
    • Garry Horsnell@N8VSON
      December 27, 2013, 7:10 am

      I’m not sure what treaty you are talking about or what the $11.5 trillion in treaty money is.

      Does that have to do with some money owing all Indians in Canada or just the Six Nations of the Grand River?

      I pointed out the amount that is in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) that some people call Indian money.

      Do you have a some official reference that says Canada owes $11.5 trillion in treaty money?

      REPLY
      • N8VSON@Garry Horsnell
        December 28, 2013, 3:44 am

        I asked a simple question. You know very well what I’m referring to. But to answer your last question; yes. I’m referring to the “Indian version of how the treaties should work.” I’m referencing the Supreme Court decision that treaties MUST be interpreted in a manner in which the Indians understood them to mean. Is there another version I’m unaware of? Yours, perhaps? This is question I have put to you before which for some reason, you’re unwilling to address. As for an “official reference” about Canada owing us 11.5 trillions in treaty money, I’m not so well-informed as Thohahoken and I will defer to his expertise and that of Walter Rudnicky

        I will also point out in his article the following that you have conveniently avoided responding to:

        “In 1986 the treaty debt was calculated by Canadian government senior policy analyst Walter Rudnicky at $11.5-trillion from 1763 to 1986 in his “Treaty Implementation Plan”. Rudnicki, who broadcast his research in 1991 on the local radio station, based his calculations on unlicensed resources, taxes collected by Canada and the provinces on land, and land use across the continent.

        “They owe you people around $2-and-half-trillion for the land between Montreal and Windsor,” he told local listeners.”
        Perhaps Mr. Horsnerll, you should direct your question to Mr. Rudnicky if that kind of research isn’t out of your area of expertise.

        REPLY
        • Garry Horsnell@N8VSON
          December 28, 2013, 7:43 am

          I don’t mean to suggest you’re wrong but I am a little confused.

          If I am not mistaken, the Supreme Court of Canada said any ambiguities in treaties should be interpreted in favour of the Indians.

          Here is what I see when I look a the treaties.

          In the case of the Peace and Friendship Treaties in the eastern maritime provinces in Canada, the Crown didn’t promise any money to Indian bands in those treaties so I’m not sure what treaty money there would be in those cases.

          The Quebec government (a little Crown) made the James Bay agreement with the Cree and the Inuit in Quebec and I think the Cree and Inuit are being paid. Otherwise, I’m not aware of any treaties where the Crown promised money to Indians in Quebec.

          The Crown made agreements to purchase land across southern Ontario from the Ojibwa Mississauga Indians. They ceded land to the Crown and were paid.

          Governor Haldimand, for example, purchased a large tract of land, including land along the Grand River, from the Mississauga Indians and they did “grant, bargain, sell, alien, release, and confirm” that land to the British Crown “forever”, for the sum of “1,180 pounds, seven shillings and fourpence of lawful money of Great Britain” on May 22, 1784.
          Source: Indian Treaties and Surrenders, 1891 (reprinted 1996) Queens Printer, Volume 1, item number 3, page 5

          The Crown didn’t promise further annuities in that or other agreements with the Mississauga Indians.

          In the 1850 Robinson Huron Treaty it says the following. “THAT for, and in consideration of the sum of two thousand pounds of good and lawful money of Upper Canda, to them in hand paid, and for the further perpetual annuity of six hundred pounds of like money, the same to be paid and delivered to the said Chiefs and their Tribes at a convenient season of each year, of which due notice will be given, at such places as may be appointed for that purpose, they the said Chiefs and Principal men, on behalf of their respective Tribes or Bands, do hereby fully, freely, and voluntarily surrender, cede, grant, and convey unto Her Majesty, her heirs and successors for ever, all their right, title, and interest to, and in the whole of, the territory above described, save and except the reservations set forth in the schedule hereunto annexed; which reservations shall be held and occupied by the said Chiefs and their Tribes in common, for their own use and benefit”.

          And the Crown promised an annuity to each individual Indian not to exceed the sum of one pound Provincial Currency in any one year.

          The Indian chiefs agreed.

          The Crown also made the numbered treaties that cover from north western Ontario to north eastern British Columbia.

          In those treaties, the Crown provided farm implements to Indian bands on reserves and made some promises. Here, for example, is what it says in Treaty 5 “It is further agreed between Her Majesty and the said Indians that the sum of five hundred dollars per annum shall be yearly and every year expended by Her Majesty in the purchase of ammunition, and twine for nets, for the use of the said Indians, in manner following, that is to say: in the reasonable discretion as regards the distribution thereof among the Indians inhabiting the several reserves or otherwise included therein of Her Majesty’s Indian Agent have the supervision of this treaty”. It also says “It is further agreed between Her Majesty and the said Indians that each Chief duly recognized as such shall receive an annual salary of twenty-five dollars per annum, and each subordinate officer, not exceeding three for each band, shall receive fifteen dollars per annum; and each such Chief and subordinate officer as aforesaid shall also receive, once every three years, a suitable suit of clothing; and each Chief shall receive, in recognition of the closing of the treaty, a suitable flag and medal”.

          Those were the monies promised in treaties or treaty money and I think the Crown is now paying Indian chiefs an band councilors far more than $25 per annum.

          Most of the Indian bands in British Columbia don’t even have treaties with the Crown yet so I don’t what treaty money the Crown would owe them.

          I’m fairly sure the Crown paid for the land and has been paying the annuities promised in treaties and I think the Crown is paying far more than is required according to the treaties to pay for infrastructure, services and programs on Indian reserves the Crown did not promise in treaties to pay for on Indian reserves so how does one determine the Crown now owes Indians $11.5 billion in treaty money?

          REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    December 23, 2013, 7:46 am

    The author, Thohahoken, basically implied all Indians pay taxes.

    I pointed out below, according to the Canada Revenue Agency GRA), Indians who live and work on Indian reserves get tax exemptions and do not pay taxes to the Crown. In addition, Indians on most reserves do not pay taxes to their local band council governments.

    The author said “Not one cent of white money pays for Six Nations. We pay our own way”.

    And notice the author uses the term “white money”? What’s with that? Not all people who live outside of Indian reserves are white and, if non natives said red money, natives would be all over the non natives for using a derogatory term.

    Indian reserves get tax money from the Ontario government. According to the Six Nations of the Grand River financial statement for 2012/13, the reserve got $18,278,034 from the Ontario government. Some of that tax money comes from non native people outside of the reserve. The reserve got $8,018,178 under the heading Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership Agreement. That is money from OLG (Casino Rama) and some of that money comes from non native people outside of the reserve. The Six Nations is also getting $65 million from Samsung and the Ontario government has sweetened the pot with $10 million more. Much of that money will come from non native people outside of the reserve.

    So Indians are getting money from non natives to help run Indian reserves.

    And the author talks about federal excise taxes. Well, Grand River Enterprises (GRE) pays excise taxes so it can sell cigarettes outside of the reserve to people in other countries like the U.S.A. and Germany.

    In a 2006 Hamilton Spectator article. it says “Since acquiring a federal licence to make cigarettes in 1996, it has paid at least $400 million — by the company’s own calculations — in excise taxes alone”. The article was printed in 2006 so that suggests GRE paid on average about $40 million in excise taxes per year. The amount of excise tax per year has probably increased with increased cigarette production since 2006 although I believe there was a fire at the company a year or so ago which might have slowed production for a while.

    Excise taxes by definition are consumption taxes. The company adds that excise tax cost to the price of its products. The customers/consumers cover that cost when they buy the company’s products and the company get its tax money back.

    Essentially, the customers/consumers are paying the excise taxes. Indians on reserves don’t pay taxes on cigarettes and GRE sells most of it products to non natives so they are paying to cover the excise taxes.

    And, GRE pays the excise tax so it is GRE money. It is not Six Nations reserve money. If GRE were to overpay excise tax, the rebate would go back to GRE not to the reserve government and, if GRE didn’t pay any excise taxes, the Six Nations wouldn’t get that tax money anyway.

    And GRE runs its operation in a building on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve. GRE gets it excise tax money back and I doubt GRE is paying any property tax or business tax to the Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council Government.

    So, unlike companies outside of Indian reserves that pay business taxes to the federal and provincial governments, the HST (sales taxes) on goods and services and property and business taxes to local municipal governments, GRE seems to be getting a bit of a free ride.

    By the way, the Two Row Times newspaper is located on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve so I wonder if it will pay any property and businesses taxes or whether any of its workers will pay any taxes to the local Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Band Council government.

    REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    December 22, 2013, 10:45 am

    Thohahoken talks about the myth of untaxed Indians and suggests all the money to fund Indian reserves comes from Indians and the reserves don’t get tax money from taxpayers outside of Indian reserves.

    People can go the the federal Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) website to check on funding to Indian reserves.

    In one AANDC financial statement, it shows the amount of money in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for Indians. That CRF is also called Indian money.

    Section 11 of that financial statement shows a table of trust accounts and the money that was in the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) for Indian bands. The table shows a total of $1,148,048 in thousands (i.e. $1,148,048,000 or about $1.1 billion in total) in 2011.

    In another AANDC financial statement for 2013, there is a pie chart in the section called “Getting Results”. That chart shows about 80% of the AANDC budget goes to Indian reserves. Some money would likely be held back for emergencies on Indian reserves.

    The federal government is now sending about $11 billion per year in total from various federal departments like Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Health and Welfare Canada and other federal departments to First Nations reserves across Canada. If the federal government were using only Indian money, it would run out within months.

    In addition, provincial governments send money to Indian reserves.

    I went to the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation website to look at its financial statement for 2012/13. On page 5, it shows the band received $18,278,034 from the Ontario government (Province of Ontario) for the year ending March 31, 2013.

    Furthermore, many Indian bands are getting money directly from private companies that are operating on land Indian bands ceded to the Crown.

    So, it is hard to believe Indians on reserves are getting only “Indian money” to run Indian reserves and are not getting tax money from Canadians who live outside of Indian reserves.

    And I guess, if the money Indians get for reserves were all “Indian money” and did not include money from taxpayers outside of Indian reserves, the Canadian federal government wouldn’t need to track it closely to ensure taxpayers’ money is well spent and not mismanaged.

    REPLY
  • Garry Horsnell
    December 22, 2013, 10:17 am

    Thohahoken talks about the myth of untaxed Indians.

    The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a document called “Information for Indians”. That document talks about tax exemptions for Indians.

    Here are a few quotes.

    Note
    “We recognize that many First Nations people in Canada prefer not to describe themselves as Indians. However, we use the term Indian because it has a legal meaning in the Indian Act”.

    Overview
    “As an Indian, you are subject to the same tax rules as other Canadian residents unless your income is eligible for the tax exemption under section 87 of the Indian Act. That exemption applies to the income of an Indian that is earned on a reserve or that is considered to be earned on a reserve, as well as to goods bought on, or delivered to, a reserve”.

    “If you have personal property-including income-situated on a reserve, that property is exempt from tax under section 87 of the Indian Act”.

    It then lists the following reasons for property tax exemptions.

    Facts
    “A tax exemption for Indian property situated on reserves has existed since before Confederation.

    The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that this exemption is linked to the protection of reserve land and property.

    The Court has concluded that the purpose of the exemption is to make sure tax does not erode the use of Indian property on reserves.

    The Court has indicated that this tax exemption is not intended to remedy the economically disadvantaged position of Aboriginal people in Canada or bring economic benefits to them”.

    Employment income
    “Employment income is exempt from income tax under paragraph 81(1)(a) of the Income Tax Act and section 87 of the Indian Act only if the income is situated on a reserve”.

    Business income
    “Your business income is generally exempt from tax if the actual income-earning activities of the business take place on a reserve. If your business is operated entirely on a reserve, your business income is connected to a reserve and is exempt under section 87 of the Indian Act”.

    Goods and services tax/Harmonized sales tax (GST/HST)
    “The GST/HST does not apply to goods bought on a reserve by Indians, Indian bands, and unincorporated band-empowered entities.

    Goods bought off a reserve by Indians, Indian bands, and unincorporated band-empowered entities are subject to GST/HST, unless the goods are delivered to a reserve by the vendor or the vendor’s agent”.

    So, basically, Indians who live and work on Indian reserves do not have to pay taxes to the Canadian federal government (the big Crown) or to provincial governments (the little Crowns) and in most cases Indians who live on Indian reserves do not pay taxes to their own local band council governments.

    So, I could ague about the myth of all Indians on reserves paying taxes.

    Yes, many Indians do pay taxes.

    Indians who live on Indian reserves but who work outside of reserves for companies that are not headquartered on reserves do pay incomes taxes. Of course, that money is used to help pay for the maintenance of infrastructure like roads, highways, bridges, etc. they use and the services like policing they get when those Indians travel to and from work outside of reserves.

    Indians who live and work outside of Indian reserves have voluntarily chosen to live outside of reserves. Those Indians live in a manner similar to non natives and those Indians pay taxes basically like non natives. Of course, those taxes are used to maintain infrastructure like roads, highways, bridges, etc. and to provide services like policing, etc. and to provide social services like health care, etc. those Indians and the rest of us get outside of Indian reserves.

    REPLY
    • Nokie@Garry Horsnell
      December 28, 2013, 7:59 pm

      First Nations pay for ALL their own programs and services from the money “Held In Trust” by Canada. It is NOT TAXPAYER MONEY!!! Those programs and services are NOT FREE, they are contracted as a PURCHASE OF SERVICE.

      TAXES pay for Canadian programs and services. First Nations don’t pay the taxes that provide programs and services to other Canadians. If a First Nations member lives or works off the First Nation they are taxed in the same manner as every other Canadian. None of those taxes benefit the First Nations communities even if the worker lives on a First Nation.

      Since First Nations don’t pay for Non-Native programs and services, if their students attend “public schools” they have to pay “tuition”. First Nations pay for all education out of their allocated budgets and at a higher cost than other Canadians.

      Here is an example: My reserve has no secondary school. Tuition to the public secondary school is “more than” $8,000/student, plus other fees and transportation.

      If 20 grade 8 graduates attend the high school
      20 students X $8,000 = $160,000/year
      If each year we have 4 grades of 20 students
      4X $160,000 = $640,000 (tuition for 1 year, plus fees and transportation)

      For any special need student the tuition is 3 times the student tuition. This example is a conservative estimate of what my reserve pays each year “just for secondary school tuition”.
      =============

      YOU are the one who is being subsidized. Your individual taxes don’t even cover the costs of the programs and services available to you.

      How much tuition do Non-Natives pay? “$0” How much do Non-Natives pay for school bus transportation? “$0” How much do you pay for health care? “$0”

      Health Care for First Nations is paid out of their “Trust Funds” as a provincial TRANSFER PAYMENT whether they have access to health care or not. In fact, First Nations DO NOT have (as you say) the same ability to use the exact same health care as everyone else. That’s what the Chiefs are fighting for “the same” health care as every other Canadian resident.

      First Nations are sovereign Nations. Canada declared First Nations citizens in the 1960s. First Nations did not ask to become citizens. Citizenship was imposed on them. The laws were changed to make it legal for First Nation members to leave the reserves and they were made citizens, so those that left the reserves could be taxed.

      It’s the governments who decide how much of THEIR OWN money First Nations/Native Americans can have. The Chiefs have to fight to access their own money. It’s amazing how you can look at how YOU live and at how many First Nations/Native Americans are forced to live and think they have “special privileges”.

      Indian Moneys Program

      Indian Moneys means all moneys collected, received or held by Her Majesty for the use and benefit of Indians and/or bands. There are two types of Indian moneys: capital and revenue.

      The Indian Moneys program is responsible for the administration of Indian moneys held within the CRF for the use and benefit of Indians and/or bands.

      Band Moneys

      In some cases, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has specific responsibilities for managing moneys that belong to First Nations bands. These moneys are generated through band-owned resources such as oil and gas.

      REPLY

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