And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

Views differ on fire victim 
               While some Onondagas praise his efforts, a lawyer for the
               chiefs criticizes him.
               By Daniel Gonzalez 

               Depending on whom you believe, Ronald Jones Sr. was a tireless
               combatant of corruption on the Onondaga Indian Nation or a
               disgruntled and volatile fanatic who once pointed a shotgun
at a
               clan mother's stomach.

               Jones, a 64-year-old retired carpenter and one-time ironworker,
               was found dead Thursday in the smoldering ruins of his modest
               home on the nation's territory south of Syracuse.

               The house, which Jones built 30 years ago, was leveled by a
               spectacular midday blaze Thursday. The fire is under
               by local authorities with help from federal Bureau of Alcohol,
               Tobacco and Firearms arson specialists.

               In interviews, relatives and friends portrayed Jones as a
               leader whose relentless efforts to expose what he saw as
               corruption by Onondaga chiefs earned him a wide following on
               the nation. Family members suggest that his crusade may
               ultimately have gotten him killed.

               "That's all he ever asked for was accountability from the
               and it ended with his house burning down. There was no reason
               for him to die," said Karen Jones, one of seven children Jones

               left, in addition to his wife, Ruth.

               Ronald Jones constantly battled Onondaga chiefs on a number of

               In 1997, for example, he led a group of Onondagas opposed to a
               sales-tax agreement between Onondaga Nation chiefs and the
               Pataki administration, claiming the pact violated 100-year-old
               treaties between the Onondaga Nation and the United States.

               "He was the godfather of the opposition," said Terrance
               Hoffmann, one of the lawyers who represented the faction
               opposing the chiefs. "He was the godfather in the sense that he
               was the elder statesman of the opposition group in point of age
               and in point of experience in opposing the regime."

               For years, Ronald Jones had maintained that Onondaga chiefs
               were incorrectly appointed, and he accused them of running the
               nation like "dictators," said Karen Jones and another daughter,
               Nikki Jones.

               He frequently traveled to Washington, D.C., to complain to
               federal officials about the way Onondaga chiefs were spending
               nation money and to claim the chiefs profited from illegal
               of toxic wastes on the nation, his two daughters said. Ronald
               Jones had frequently accused chiefs of using intimida tion to
               silence dissenters and of using Onondaga County sheriff's
               and state police as their "strongmen," they said.

               Last month, Jones and other opponents published their own
               16-page newspaper called The Onondaga Progressive, critical of
               Onondaga chiefs.

               Although Ronald Jones was listed in the newspaper's masthead
               only as a photographer, his daughters said Jones had a hand in
               writing many of the articles in the publication.

               Onondaga chiefs declined to comment.

               "Their preference is to let the man die in peace," said Joseph
               Heath, a lawyer who represents the nation's Council of Chiefs.

               Heath painted a much different picture of Ronald Jones. He
               portrayed Jones as a disgruntled fanatic who turned bitter more
               than 30 years ago when he was passed over by clan mothers as a

               The current rulers, he said, are properly selected chiefs
who went
               through "a very laborious and slow process to be put into

               He said, however, that Jones and his family have a long
history of
               distributing "inaccurate or distorted" information.

               The chiefs, Heath said, have never tried to silence Jones.
"If he
               wants to spout off all the time, he's been permitted to do
that," he

               Rather than participate in the nation's democratic process,
               issues are raised and debated in the Longhouse, Jones chose to
               circumvent the process by going to outsiders, Heath said.

               "He's always running off to state and federal agencies to
try and
               get them to intervene against the Council of Chiefs that is put
               there by the Onondaga people in their centuries-old system,"
               Heath said.

               In 1991, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a
               multimillion-dollar cleanup on the Onondaga Nation after drums
               of industrial waste, medical waste bags and other contamination
               were found on the nation. The action was the result of the
               Heath said.

               "The council has never allowed the dumping of any hazardous
               waste on the nation, and when they found out about it, they've
               acted responsibly and they've helped to clean it up," Heath

               In 1985, Heath said, Jones threatened a clan mother with a
               shotgun, after the chiefs sent a group of supporters to
               him about plans to build a bingo hall on the territory.

               "His answer was to put a shotgun in a clan mother's stomach and
               threaten to blow them away," Heath said. Relatives said Jones
               never threatened anyone.

               After the confrontation, the chiefs banished Jones and his
               Ruth, from the territory, Heath said.

               "Ronny was just too dangerous and out of control," Heath said.
               Jones moved back to the territory a year later. The chiefs
               relented, Heath said, and let him move back when they realized
               his family was "too destitute' to live anywhere else.

               "It was the compassionate thing to do," he said. 

                                                      Sunday, February 14,

          Tsonkwadiyonrat (We are ONE Spirit)
                     Unenh onhwa' Awayaton

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