indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
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...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Lakota Country Times: New Oglala Sioux leader encourages youth (1/20)
Native Sun News Today: A new leader for Great Plains tribal group (1/20)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: It's a new era for Indian Country (1/20)
Mark Charles: Decoding Trump's bid to 'Make America Great Again' (1/19)
Lakota Country Times: Another year of big news in Lakota territory (1/19)
Native Sun News Today: DefundDAPL billboard goes up in New York (1/19)
Vi Waln: Let's kick our smoking and tobacco habit in Indian Country (1/19)
Terese Mailhot: Native women care what happens to all our sisters (1/19)
Leonard Peltier remains behind bars as Obama rejects clemency (1/19)
Department of the Army takes the lead on Dakota Access Pipeline (1/18)
Dakota Access executive confirms crude already placed in pipeline (1/18)
Bureau of Indian Affairs releases annual listing of recognized tribes (1/18)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud Sioux Tribe opens homeless shelter (1/18)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne focuses on foster care (1/18)
Brandon Ecoffey: Be safe and be prepared as winter hits the plains (1/18)
Disenrollment epidemic affects dozens of tribes across the nation (1/18)
New battle opens as Dakota Access disputes environmental review (1/17)
Judge declines to block publication of Dakota Access Pipeline notice (1/17)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe responds quickly to Dakota Access threat (1/17)
President Obama names first members of Native youth commission (1/17)
Tim Giago: Discovering a love for food at an Indian boarding school (1/17)
Lakota Country Times: Historic decision for Indian Child Welfare Act (1/17)
Native Sun News Today: Pine Ridge teams fight it out at the buzzer (1/17)
Delphine Red Shirt: Tournament is a testament to our Native youth (1/17)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: News for ranchers in the new year (1/17)
Gyasi Ross: Let's divest from DAPL and support Native owned banks (1/17)
Jeffrey Ostler/Nick Estes: Treaties and the Dakota Access Pipeline (1/17)
Mary Annette Pember: Bad River Band takes stand on oil pipeline (1/17)
Steve Russell: Resolutions for tribal leaders and even the Donald (1/17)
Craig Tribal Association celebrates 'historic' trust land acquisition (1/16)
Mark Trahant: Congress moves forward with repeal of Obamacare (1/16)
Native Sun News Today: Northern Cheyenne banker beats the odds (1/16)
James Giago Davies: The real power to defeat the Wasicu pipeline (1/16)
Tiffany Midge: Hollywood needs to stop stereotyping Native people (1/16)
Peter d'Errico: New book connects Native America with Palestine (1/16)
Alaska tribe makes history with approval of trust land application (1/13)
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.