By Tanya Lee
Within the bounds of the federal regulations, states—and most tribes—may set their own rules. States that allow fireworks usually also allow local municipalities to further restrict which fireworks may be purchased and discharged.
States that ban all fireworks include Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. More than 40 states allow all or some consumer fireworks. Some states restrict the sale of consumer fireworks to those considered “safe and sane,” which are those that do not fly or explode, such as fountains, sparklers, wheels, smoke bombs, strobes and ground spinners. Firecrackers, rockets, missiles, mines, shells, aerial cakes, flying spinners and Roman candles are not considered “safe and sane” as a rule, though states set their own criteria for those.
Indian tribes are subject only to federal fireworks regulations. Some restrict the sale of fireworks to tribal entities, while others allow individual tribal members to sell fireworks and yet others allow nontribal members to sell the devices on the reservation. Fireworks may not be discharged on Bureau of Indian Affairs property, and most tribes forbid their discharge in tribal housing areas.
Fireworks, Freedom and Feeling Up: The Significance of the Fourth in 600 Words
By Gyasi Ross
It was freedom of a different kind. Many of the families who had fireworks stands were poor; we celebrated our freedom from poverty for a little while. After all, fireworks were a great source of economic development on the rez. There were a not a whole lot of other opportunities there; we knew that we could count on the two “F” words to stabilize the family income: fishing and fireworks. The way it went is that the families with fireworks stands would typically struggle to find a way to pay their fireworks tax to the Tribe, and then go get a thousand dollars or so worth of fireworks from a wholesaler on consignment. Drug-dealer style. There was interest involved, and a certain amount of fear because “What if we don’t sell as much as we borrow?” Still, it was rez-style capitalism, and was a huge part of the tribal economy at the time.
Fireworks paid for many Indian kids’ school clothes—taking back America one white customer at a time.