SEIZES TRIBE’S CIGARETTE SHIPMENT
Minn. – On April 18, agents from the Minnesota Department of
Revenue intercepted and seized a shipment of cigarettes from the
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska bound for a Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe gas
station in Walker.
to the department, the delivery was stopped in St. Cloud and
contained 281 cartons – 2,810 packs – of cigarettes that had been
manufactured in Nebraska and sent to the Minnesota band, unstamped
and free from the state’s cigarette tax.
statement, Leech Lake officials called the incident “the Good
Friday Seizure,” calling it “yet another attack on Native
American rights. The Band sees this seizure as an attempt by the
state to implement its unfair taxation plan on the lands of the Leech
Lake Reservation, this time resulting in the unfortunate economic
isolation of a federally recognized American Indian Tribe.”
shipment made it to its destination, cigarettes would have sold for
$3.50 a pack.
state, the seizure was an issue of tax fairness and is withholding
the state tax equity revenue it normally splits with the tribe for
its sale of other state-taxed items like sales, gas and alcohol until
the band agrees to start selling state-taxed cigarettes again. Losing
that shared tax revenue could cost Leech Lake $2 million or more a
year, Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans said.
Ten of the
state’s 11 tribes agreed to sell only state-taxed cigarettes, Frans
said his department has worked with Leech Lake for years to try to
reach a similar deal. Leech Lake Chairwoman Carri Jones said in a
statement the tribe tried to work with the state.
time the Minnesota Department of Revenue requested a meeting on this
issue, we came to the table to meet in good faith to offer innovative
and creative solutions, which were consistently turned down by the
state,” she said in the statement. “We were hoping that by
engaging in good faith negotiations we would avoid the drastic
measure that Gov. Dayton’s administration took on Easter weekend.”
NATION SEEKS ROAD GRANT FOR CASINO
Wis. – The Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin is supporting a road grant
request for its proposed off-reservation casino.
wants to build a casino in Beloit. The city applied for a grant from
the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program to
make road upgrades near the site.
of Indian Affairs is preparing an environmental impact statement for
the project. If it’s approved, the state governor will have veto
authority under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian
Gaming Regulatory Act.
The site in
Beloit is about 50 miles from the tribe’s nearest gaming facility in
DAKOTA TRIBES SEE WATER USE TIED TO FRACKING
N.D. – According to citizens of the Fort Berthold Indian
Reservation, trucks have been spotted draining water from temporarily
filled ditches along U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs roads.
intended use for the water and their right to take it come into
question. What the tribe can do about it also is questionable.
According to the tribe’s environmental director, Edmund Baker,
reports of the trucks taking water in the Mandaree area began when he
started his position a year ago. He added that one oil well takes 7
million gallons of water to drill and maintain and that there are
between 2,500 and 3,000 wells on the reservation.
environmental perspective, the concern lies in the displacement of
water from natural runoff, he said. The problem is not being
addressed now, but may be in proposed tribal water codes. Baker said
the boom happened so fast the tribal regulation structure is
struggling to catch up. Water codes are being developed for the tribe
by a Native American law firm, Fredericks, Peebles & Morgan.
first couple of years of the boom, the state also struggled to keep
up, Dan Farrell, N.D. Water Commission Water Appropriations Division
state, companies are able to use natural water bodies as a source for
water if they have a permit. Tribal lands are separate from
SOUTH DAKOTA PRISON BAN ON TOBACCO UNCONSTITUTIONAL
FALLS, S.D. – The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 25
that a tobacco ban in South Dakota prisons violates Native American
inmates’ constitutional rights.
decision affirms the ruling of South Dakota District Judge Karen
Schreier, which was appealed by the state’s Department of
Corrections last year. The ruling means the Department of Corrections
cannot ban tobacco altogether in South Dakota prisons.
plan approved by Schreier last fall over Department of Corrections
objections, inmates may use a mixture of red willow bark and 1
percent tobacco in sweat lodge ceremonies. It restricts which inmates
can carry the mixture to the ceremonies and allows prison officials
to punish those caught using or bartering tobacco outside the
ceremony by barring them from participating for one year.
advocacy group, Native American Council of Tribes, praised the
ruling. The council’s legal challenge started in 2009 when the
department rescinded its religious exception to its tobacco policy.
The department could appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court or
ask for a review by the full Eighth Circuit.
AFFILIATED TRIBES REPORT OIL TAX BOON
N.D. – The Three Affiliated Tribes reported on April 23 at the
tribe’s Oil and Gas Expo that since July, the tribes collected $184
million in oil tax revenue, which it says will go toward
The jump in
revenue is due to increased oil production at Fort Berthold, which
now produces more than 270,000 barrels per day and accounts for
nearly 30 percent of North Dakota’s oil production. Tribal Chairman
Tex Hall said Wednesday if the Fort Berthold Reservation were a
state, it would be the seventh top oil producing state in the
plans to spend $100 million to improve roads on the reservation that
have experienced heavy truck traffic. In addition, the tribe is
planning $100 million for a proposed bridge project and $65 million
in housing for medical staff as its clinic expands to a 24-hour
ambulance service in response to an increased number of accidents,
to the North Dakota State Treasurer, the Three Affiliated Tribes
collected $188 million in oil tax revenue from 2011-13. Since July 1,
the tribe has already collected $184 million in oil tax revenue. In
addition to the gain in revenue from increased oil production, the
tribe is now getting a larger share of oil tax dollars resulting from
a new tax agreement with the state.
North Dakota received 80 percent of some of the oil tax revenue while
the tribe received 20 percent. An agreement reached at the end of
last year’s legislative session changed the split to 50-50.
Projections put revenue at $80 million from 2013-15 as a result of
is holding public meetings on the proposal and has received concern
from Twin Buttes community members about the potential for increased
crime, Hall said. The tribe also plans to spend $50 million on a rail
spur and site development for a rail-loading facility and diesel
refinery near Makoti. Thunder Butte Petroleum Services CEO Richard
Mayer said the rail-loading portion of the project is expected to be
complete in September with the refinery scheduled to open in spring
TRIBES SHARE $157 MILLION TRUST SETTLEMENT
Wyo. – The Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the Northern Arapaho Tribe of
Wyoming are sharing in a $157 million trust fund settlement.
settlement covers a portion of a long-running case involving
mismanaged trust assets and trust funds on the Wind River
Reservation. The tribes have been in court since 1979 and have
resolved different parts of the dispute.
are distributing 85 percent of their portion of the settlement on a
per capita basis. Each citizen of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe will
receive about $15,000 while each citizen of the Northern Arapaho
Tribe will receive about $6,300.
Shoshone checks are being held up due to a political dispute that
affects the council. The Northern Arapaho checks were mailed in late