indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
N.D. judge rules gas tax on Indians illegal
Wednesday, January 28, 2004

As many as 7,000 tribal members who purchase fuel on reservations in North Dakota may be entitled to refunds for being forced to pay the state's gasoline tax.

The courts still have to sort out how much money may be owed to Indian consumers for the illegal tax. But Vance Gillette, the attorney handling the case, is urging tribal members to "save their receipts" in anticipation of a refund.

"We still have to go to court and brief the refund issue," said Gillette, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota.

Gillette is representing four tribal members who contested the tax. They argued that federal law and 19th-century treaties signed by the Three Affiliated Tribes and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe shielded them from the state.

On January 13, a state judge agreed. Northwest District Judge Gary A. Holum issued an injunction permanently barring the state from collecting the tax.

"Because Congress has not instructed otherwise," the judge wrote in a 21-page opinion, "the court finds that North Dakota's motor fuels tax, as applied to Native American reservation residents who purchase fuel on reservation land, is illegal."

Based on statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Gillette says there are 18,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives who live on reservations in the state. Of those, he estimates that anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 are actual fuel buyers.

At 21 cents per gallon, Gillette believes these buyers pay about $2 million in taxes every year. He says the real figure may be higher because Indians in rural areas purchase more fuel.

Lawyers for the state are contesting Holum's decision, and they filed a motion to reconsider, which is pending before the court. The lawyers also dispute Gillette's estimates of the refunds that may be owed.

But in other states, the courts have ruled in favor of tribal members in similar cases. Earlier this month, the South Dakota Supreme Court affirmed that Indian consumers have a right to refunds. The state and federal courts in Idaho barred the state from imposing a gasoline taxes on reservations as well.

In the North Dakota case, members of the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara), the Turtle Mountain Chippewa and the Spirit Lake Tribe are affected. Tribal members who buy fuel at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Tribe's casino on the North Dakota portion of its reservation are also impacted.

Gillette said members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who buy fuel on the North Dakota portion of its reservation won't be included because the tribe has a tax agreement with North Dakota.

The plaintiffs who sued the state are Joan Mann and Ken Danks, Three Affiliated members who own business on the reservation, and Tracy Wilkie and Christa Monette, Turtle Mountain Chippewa tribal members. Holum dismissed all but Danks from the suit on procedural grounds.

Related Stories:
S.D. tribal members can apply for gas tax refunds (01/16)
S.D. Supreme Court limits refunds for illegal gas tax (01/09)
Idaho tribes score victory with tax ruling (08/20)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cobell beneficiaries still waiting on payment (7/24)
Navajo Nation president to discuss brutal murders with mayor (7/24)
NCAI President Cladoosby offers cedar hat to BIA's Washburn (7/24)
Woman waiting in line at SCIA hearing reportedly had bedbugs (7/24)
Mark Rogers: System exploits misery of our nation's veterans (7/24)
Granddaughter of former team owner condemns racist mascot (7/24)
Remote tribes facing threats from drug trafficking and logging (7/24)
BIA indicates Tohono O'odham Nation can use land for gaming (7/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo wants to take state out of casino operations (7/24)
Iipay Nation started planning Internet poker games last year (7/24)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe concerned about potential gaming site (7/24)
Native Sun News: Great Plains tribes call for full contract funds (7/23)
Native Sun News: Candidate wants Obama to meet with tribes (7/23)
Audio: Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing on gaming (7/23)
President Obama nominates Jonodev Chaudhuri to lead NIGC (7/23)
Class III compact for Swinomish Tribe lowers legal age to 18 (7/23)
Navajo Nation officials seek meeting in response to murders (7/23)
Larry Spotted Crow Mann: Thank Indian veterans for America (7/23)
Fond du Lac Band tries to uncover cause of foodborne illness (7/23)
Man in Alabama honors Yuchi ancestor with unique memorial (7/23)
Shivwits Band sees early success with gas station and store (7/23)
Seminole Tribe launches marketing campaign for juice brand (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe breaks ground on first of 15 chain restaurants (7/23)
Water bottling plant provides usage reports to Morongo Band (7/23)
WBUR: Tribes rebury one of their ancient relatives in Montana (7/23)
KPLU: Quileute Tribe welcomes man who was rescued in 2010 (7/23)
Unsettled: Free speech costs dearly at Passamaquoddy Tribe (7/23)
MSU News: Online Native studies courses open to registration (7/23)
Opinion: Connecticut tribe deserves a 2nd shot at recognition (7/23)
Ernie Stevens joins American Gaming Association Hall of Fame (7/23)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino vote to join labor union (7/23)
Sandia Pueblo undertakes first major casino expansion project (7/23)
Mohegan Tribe's poll points to preference for casino in Catskills (7/23)
Native Sun News: Lakota War Path team wins world relay title (7/22)
Raina Thiele: Native youth participate in My Brother's Keeper (7/22)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs looks into tribal gaming (7/22)
NIGC reports 'stable' growth in $28B tribal gaming industry (7/22)
Bail set at $5M for teens accused of murdering Navajo men (7/22)
Gyasi Ross: Indigenous children at border need to be heard (7/22)
Donna Ennis: Open border to indigenous sisters and children (7/22)
Jay Daniels: Land consolidation program isn't really working (7/22)
Mark Rogers: Reality of being an invisible Indian in New York (7/22)
Center: Report outlines harmful effects of 'Indian' mascots (7/22)
Yurok Tribe combats illegal marijuana farms on reservation (7/22)
County drops opposition to CSKT land-into-trust application (7/22)
Native youth hospitalized after being shot by police officer (7/22)
University of California welcomes Native youth to campus (7/22)
Unsettled: Questions linger on Passamaquoddy leadership (7/22)
WCAI: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe won't join Plymouth 400 (7/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.