Canada | Opinion

Charles Kader: Native businesses considered a threat to society

Derek White at a 2013 NASCAR race in Wisconsin. Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Charles Kader, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, comments on the charges filed against Derek White, a NASCAR driver and team owner from the Kahnawake First Nation who is accused of smuggling tobacco into Canada from the United States:
World famous NASCAR driver and team owner Derek White from Kahnawake was the most prominent person, Native or otherwise, targeted in MYGALE. He was charged with seven offenses, including one count of engaging in activities which profit from criminal organization, three counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and three counts of fraud. He turned himself into authorities and is now out on $20,000 (Cdn) bail.

In an interview with the local Kahnawake newspaper, The Eastern Door, White dismissed assertions that his involvement aided international terrorism. He maintained that he only worked with tobacco, as his ancestors did. He is also a local business person in addition to his racing fame, employing other Mohawks. Normally, job creators are touted as community pillars by the mainstream governments but the stigma of Native business ownership comes with its own hardships. “They want their tax money, that’s all,” White told the Eastern Door in reference to his charges.

There is a root of this conflict. Beyond all of the hype, the criminal charges and the headlines, there is a wide difference in thinking taking place. The Native business people, all over, feel extremely hard pressed to provide for their families, living under the threat of asset forfeiture and imprisonment. These individuals are exceptional by their very effort of entering into small business on the reservations.

The mainstream governments label the Native businesses a threat to their tax base and hence, their overall way of life and their accountability to their citizenry. These governments want to be able to treat the Native populations as their citizens that they can dictate to.

Get the Story:
Charles Kader: North American Dream vs. Rugged Individualism—Tribal Style (Indian Country Today 4/3)

Also Today:
Nascar Driver Derek White Targeted in Tobacco-Smuggling Operation (Bloomberg Businessweek 4/1)
XFINITY driver allegedly at 'top' of tobacco, drug-smuggling ring (FoxSports 4/1)
Derek White arrest the latest in NASCAR's darker history (Sporting News 4/1)