May 21/97: Mohawks deny tax deal


Anti-tax forces made leaders rescind pact, lawyer says

Albany Times-Union
May 21, 1997
Associated Press

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]

ALBANY -- St. Regis Mohawk leaders deny they made an interim agreement to settle a tax dispute with state, but documents provided by the Pataki administration Tuesday suggested otherwise.

On Monday, hours after Gov. George Pataki announced that the Mohawks agreed to stop selling gas and cigarettes to non-Indians on their northern New York reservation, three Mohawk leaders said a deal did not exist.

"The interim agreement that the press release states is inaccurate," said the leaders, including Tribal Legislative Chairman Philip Tarbell, who had been quoted in a Pataki statement praising the alleged deal.

However, Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon provided a press release dated Monday from the Mohawks' Albany lawyer, Michael Rhodes-Devey, titled "St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Reaches Accord with State of New York."

The administration also produced a letter dated Friday in which the Mohawks said they would "only sell petroleum and tobacco products to Native residents of Akwesasne" for 60 days at a new location combining all of the nation's gas and cigarette shops.

"We intend to commence operations at this facility as soon as possible in order to alleviate the hardships now being endured by the Mohawk people," the letter said.

Rhodes-Devey said Tuesday that Tarbell and another leader were forced to rescind the agreement by members of the tribe's anti-tax steering committee.

"They physically went in and took him out of the building and threw him in back of a pickup truck against his will, and another member of tax steering threatened to shoot Mr. Tarbell," Rhodes-Devey said.

"The circumstances under which that letter was signed are certainly suspect," he said.

A spokesman for the tribe's police force said the matter was being investigated.

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