May 12/97: Tax protest continues; legal perspective


- posted to serendipity-L by Sonja Keohane

Monday May 12 6:45 AM EDT
Third New York Newsbriefs

[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.]

NEDROW, N.Y., May 12 (UPI) -- Tires smoldered along Interstate 81 in Nedrow, N.Y. as three Native Americans continued their protest of an interim tax deal with New York State. The protest began Thursday just south of Syracuse and stems from a temporary agreement reached last month between Indian and state leaders. Under the agreement, several Indian reservations agreed to raise the price of tax-free cigarettes. In return, the state promised it wouldn't collect taxes on goods sold to non-Indians. One of the trio of protestors condemned the agreement, insisting the U.S. government had already stolen everything from the Indians and shouldn't be trying to tax them now.


Friday May 9 1:05 AM EDT

PRESS DIGEST - New York Times front page - May 9

* The tiny Alaskan tribe of Athabaskan Indians is contending in the courts that it has the sovereign right to tax and regulate its land, a move the state is arguing is solely in its own domain.


From: Robert B. Bancroft
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 12:01:57 (EDT)
Subject: NY Tax situation


I have been reading the information as it has arrived via the net. I would like to thank Bonny for her timely updates.

It was my good fortune to be informed about a book concerning Indian and Tribal Rights, written by a member of the ACLU. Granted, it is a very basic book and does not make one an expert in Indian Law by any means but it does put into understandable language, the legal decisions as applied to Indians and Tribes. For this I thank my very good friend Firehair Shining Spirit.

Having read this book and knowing what I know, firsthand, about the NY situation, there are several things that stand out.

1) a state, such as NY, has the right to collect sales tax on the purchases of non-Indian persons on reservations. This was ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Coville case.

2) also, the said state can require "reasonable" documentation of the sales tax collection.

I don't believe that these 2 items are in contention between the Seneca Nation and New York State.

The disagreement in most part centers on the following:

3) what constitutes "reasonable documentation"? Does NY State have the right to be intrusive into the business records of the business owners? If the Seneca Nation were to provide NY State with some type of gross sales figures, would this satisfy the "reasonable documentation" requirement? The NY State Governor and Tax Collection Dept., seem to believe that they have the right to inspect the business books of these privately owned businesses on a weekly basis and the Seneca Nation disagrees. On this point, my opinion sides with the Seneca Nation.

4) does the State of NY have the right to put in place a total economic boycott of the Seneca Nation? The State of NY has seized goods destined for reservation businesses. The State of NY has interferred with the economic health and vitality of the Seneca Nation and its people through this boycott. Since the Seneca Nation is composed of Federal Treaty Indian People, under the U.S. Constitution, does the State of NY have the right to do this? In my opinion, no.

5) does the State of NY have the right to negotiate anything with Federal Treaty Indian Nations? Under the U.S. Constitution, no! All negotiations with Federal Treaty Indian Nations are to be carried out via the office of the President of the U.S. Once again the Nonintercourse Act of the late 1700's is being violated. NY State Governmental interference is the whole basis for the Nonintercourse Law being passed. NY State is once again in violation of Federal Constitution Law.

The situation is that New York State and it's Governor George Pataki are using police, military and economic might in the form of a gun held to the head of the Iroquois People to force them to "voluntarily" enter into an agreement that they know is blatantly illegal under the U.S. Constitution and Federal Law. A case of "the biggest gun makes right".

The really unfortunate thing that is missed here is that this situation, if allowed to conclude to New York's advantage, will spill over into the life and economic future of every other Nation of Indian People.

Robert B. Bancroft
Grey Wolf
Eastern Tribal Peoples Rights Association

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