Even before yesterday’s shooting of a security guard outside a Native American-owned cigarette shop on Long Island, tensions were high over New York’s plan to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by Natives to non-Natives. Carolyn Thompson of the Associated Press explores the issue in depth:
A protester positions himself along the I-90 thruway on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
Diane Garrido holds a flag during a rally last week on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation to protest the proposed New York state cigarette tax to non-Native American consumers in Irving, N.Y. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
CATTARAUGUS INDIAN RESERVATION, N.Y. (AP) — As New York Indian Nation leaders battle in courtrooms to preserve their tax-free cigarette market, tensions are rising on reservations, where the state’s renewed efforts to tax sales to non-Native customers is viewed as yet another attack on Native American rights.
“For 200 years, we have been dealing with efforts to take our land, efforts to take our resources, efforts to take our jurisdiction,” said Robert Odawi Porter, senior policy adviser and counsel for the 7,800-member Seneca nation in western New York, which says its cigarette business is a $100 million-a-year industry.
Trustee Lance Gumbs from Long Island’s Shinnecock tribe called the tax “just another extension of … the genocidal tactics of New York state.”
“Every tribe is committed to fight this issue,” said Gumbs at his smoke shop in Southampton.
Nine New York tribes are in the cigarette business. The $4.35 sales tax would force them to raise their prices and blunt their competitive edge over off-reservation sellers. Tribal leaders say the income loss would devastate economies.
A rally last week alongside the New York state Thruway where it bisects the Senecas’ Cattaraugus reservation was organized as a peaceful “people’s rally.” But there were reminders of 1997 chaos that erupted the last time the state tried to tax reservation sales.
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Tags: Barry Snyder, Buffalo cigarettes, buffalo post, Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, Cayuga Indian Nation, cigarette taxes, David Paterson, J.C. Seneca, Kern Swoboda, Lance Gumbs, Native American news, New York State Police, New York Thruway, PACT Act, Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking, Richard Jemison, Robert Odawi Porter, Seneca Free Trade Association, Seneca Nation, Shinnecock, St. Regis Mohawk, Tribal smoke shops, tribal sovereignty