[S.I.S.I.S. note: this is an official government press release. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]
Governor George E. Pataki today took a series of steps designed to bring fairness to Indian Nations by resolving the historic tax disputes that have divided New Yorkers and Native Americans for generations.
"For more than two and half years, I have worked to balance my oath of office to uphold the laws of our state with my profound respect for the rights of all people and for the sovereignty of the Indian Nations," the Governor said.
"We have demonstrated that commitment through our good-faith negotiations with the Indian Nations. We sat down with the Indian leaders, listened to their concerns, worked on our differences, attempted to come together," the Governor said.
"And we did have some significant success. We reached agreements with six of the Nations -- sending a message to all New Yorkers and Native Americans alike that we have entered a new era of peaceful cooperation.
"The federal Department of Tribal Justice praised these agreements, calling them fair and creative pacts that respected the sovereignty of the nations and my obligation to uphold the law," Governor Pataki said.
"But as we have seen in recent weeks, this issue remains extremely complex and continues to divide us. Various Supreme Court and other court rulings have only added to the confusion and polarized entire communities.
"That is not the resolution we have sought, nor is it one that I will accept," the Governor said. "And it is not the solution that our Indian Nation partners have sought.
In an effort to resolve this issue, Governor Pataki today directed the State Department of Taxation and Finance to repeal its regulations governing the collection of taxes from gasoline and cigarette sales at reservations stores.
In addition, the Governor today sent to the State Legislature a bill that would amend the State Tax Law to allow reservation stores to sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes. "These steps will allow the Indian Nations to manage these enterprises on their own, as they have for decades," the Governor said. "Let me make my message to all Indian Nations clear: It is your land, we respect your sovereignty and, if the Legislature acts as I am requesting, you will have the right to sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes free from interference from New York State.
"For centuries, the people of New York have lived side by side with their Native American neighbors; working together, raising families together, going to school together," Governor Pataki said. "It should be a relationship of mutual respect, but history teaches us that this has not always been true. "No New Yorker wants to see their neighbor suffer the indignity that comes with the loss of hope and opportunity," the Governor said. "No New Yorker wants to see their neighbor struggling to find work, struggling to provide for their family, struggling to build a better life for their children. All of us want to build a better future for our State -- and, I believe, that includes the Indian Nations, who, though sovereign nations, are our neighbors."
Governor Pataki urged the State Legislature to act quickly on his bill in order to restore fairness to the Indian Nations and bring peace to the entire region.
"For the sake of unity, for the sake of sovereignty, for the sake of fairness, I strongly urge the Legislature to pass this historic bill now," the Governor said. "Make no mistake about it: The Indians' needs are real and all New Yorkers must be sensitive to them."
Governor Pataki said he will continue to work with Indian Nations to resolve outstanding issues and improve the relationship on a government-to-government basis.
"When I took office, I inherited a series of problems that, on their face, seemed so intractable that they were beyond resolution," Governor Pataki said. "No issue was more complex than our relationship with the sovereign Indian Nations, who have had to overcome discrimination, economic inequities, and perhaps worst of all, that their calls for help and fairness fell on deaf ears.
"I have sought to improve our relationship with the Indian Nations. I resolved that we would not ignore their needs, that we would look for ways to find common ground," the Governor said. "We have made real progress in resolving this issue, but as we have seen in recent weeks, this issue remains extremely complex and continues to divide us.
"We have pledged in our conversations today with Indian Nation leaders that this is a continuation of our partnership, a continuation of our effort to come together and build a better life for New Yorkers and Native Americans alike," the Governor said. "Our strength comes from mutual respect, from finding common ground, from listening to one another, from walking arm in arm. The result will be a better future for all of us."
NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuter) - Citing conflicting court decisions, New York Gov George Pataki on Thursday directed the state tax agency to repeal laws for collecting taxes on gasoline and cigarettes sold on Indians reservations.
Further, the Republican governor said he sent a bill to the legislature that would let stores on Native American reservations sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes.
Pataki's hand was forced last year when a state supreme court ruled in favor of a group of about 3,000 convienence stores, who argued that the reservations' tax-free status gave them an unfair advantage. Judge Joseph Harris held that the taxes must be collected on all retailers or on none.
In March, Pataki reached interim pacts with six nations that required five of the tribes to raise cigarette prices as a first step in getting "an acceptable level of parity," while the sixth said it would do the same for gasoline.
However, State Supreme Court Judge Rose Sconiers of the Western District recently ruled the state went too far when it blocked supplies from reaching the Seneca tribe. The Senecas, who had not signed an interim pact, had had to stop selling gasoline and cigarettes. The state sought a stay of the judge's decision, and a higher court set a mid-June hearing.
Saying he worked over two-and-a-half years to solve the problem, Pataki, in prepared remarks, said: "These steps will allow the Indian Nations to manage these enterprises on their own, as they have done for decades. Let me make my message to all Indian Nations clear: It is your land, we respect your sovreignty and, if the legislature acts as I am requesting, you will have the right to sell tax-free gasoline and cigarettes free from interference from New York State."
Pataki's new policy infuriated the Independent Petroluem Marketers of New York, which had brought suit. "I just don't understand why, when you're this close to resolving an issue, you'd walk away like this," said Bob Reid, the group's executive director. He added it had not yet decided whether to takes its fight back to the courts.
The issue has been highly controversial and a recent rally outside Buffalo on the part of the state Thruway that runs through the Cattaraugus reservation turned violent, and 12 state troopers were injured.
Although we all should be thankful that the immediate situation may have been resolved, we should not rest until all the fact are made public.
The beatings last Sunday will never be forgotten and the cases pending against those arrested must be won. The tactic of isolation and suppression of individual nations can no longer be tolerated.
We have seen too often that a court precedent in one state quickly becomes the rational for action in all the states. Each action dilutes a precious right and each time we are asked to fight alone.
This situation and the attempt to split the nations in New York should be a signal to other nations that the states and Congress are no longer willing to abide by what little of the treaties we have left.
We should demand a full inquiry into the actions of both the Federal and State government and the type of force used against innocent people.
The Federal government should have been the chief negotiator from the beginning and any police action from the state of New York would have been averted. Either we are allowed to negotiate on a nation to nation basis or we should never sit down.
I pray that this is a warning to all of us that each right will be threatened and each time when we unite we can win.
All my relations
As long as the sun shines, the grass grows green and the water flows we will never surrender.
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 06:58:39 (EDT)
From: rez resident
Pataki denies any excessive force by the troopers and refuses amnesty for Native Americans arrested during these struggles, now, that is the Pataki I remember. Back to article 7 of the Canandaguia Treaty.
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 11:18:16 (EDT) From: Ilze Choi I rejoice at this victory but like everyone else agree that this is probably only a lull in the coming storm. What concerns me are the trade associations which will probably build a formidable backlash. Pataki, who some say, has his eye on the presidency, may have to pay dearly for doing the right thing. Whatever his motives or sincerity I wonder if it wouldn't be wise to send him letters of praise and support?
The New York Times has an article today, May 23, about his reversal. I noticed that the online article is cut short. My print version includes the enraged reaction of the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, Constance Barrella. She claims the governors decision "will hurt many small businesses....My members are disgusted with him today...There are a minimum of 20,00 people who own and operate stores within the state. They will never support the Governor again. You can't lie to people and expect them to come back for more."
Also, there are the Petroleum Marketers which I copied from a previous post:
"Pataki's new policy infuriated the Independent Petroluem Marketers of New York, which had brought suit. 'I just don't understand why, when you're this close to resolving an issue, you'd walk away like this,' said Bob Reid, the group's executive director. He added it had not yet decided whether to takes its fight back to the courts."And I bet the right wing radio hosts, such as [Bob] Lonsberry, maybe even Rush Limabaugh, will have a field day.
The article also revealed that there had been a showdown under Gov. Cuomo in 1992 which included strong resistance and many arrests.
I was wondering whether a Native American journalist might write an article for the New York Times Magazine on the Native American perspective? Education of the public, including the legislators, would counter the malicious misinformation spewed out by the radio hosts and other groups complaining of "unfairness." It seems that the war can only be won through education and information.
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 11:23:18
I am so pleased at this turn, and hope it's not more deceit and lies. I also hope the people don't relax their watch on this man. He'll only try a new direction and a different tactic, I feel this in my heart.
-- Wicked :)
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 11:34:08 (EDT)
From: Washington, D.C. source
Getting this from more than one source, the gist is the same. Clinton, in tandem with White House Advisors, extremely upset/concerned at the actions of N.Y. Governor, Pataki.
From a friend in Washington, Native American lawyer from NM, practicing in DC sends this:
"He (Gov. Pataki) was warned that federal marshals, if used, would be used to remove state troopers";Also, he (D.C. lawyer) said, "a lot of people there are talking about the actions of the Senecas in a very favorable way."
that "he (Pataki) would be arrested";
that "Clinton is very angry with the Governers actions."
This could be why he (Pataki) started to do backflips for the indians.