indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
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:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribal college geologist tackles uranium mine (1/30)
James Giago Davies: Let's hurry up and hate the Muslim people (1/30)
Luis Alejo: Apologize to the Chumash Tribe for 'hurtful' remarks (1/30)
Mark Anthony Rolo: Declaration of war against Keystone Pipeline (1/30)
Senate passes bill to approve controversial Keystone XL Pipeline (1/30)
DOI signs land buy-back cooperative agreements with two tribes (1/30)
Company claims harassment after racial incident at hockey game (1/30)
Quapaw Tribe interested in cultivating marijuana for medical uses (1/30)
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes declare war on methamphetamine (1/30)
Lawmakers introduce bill to allow Miami Nation to revoke charter (1/30)
Chairman of Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe resigns after seven years (1/30)
Another guilty conviction and indictment for Chippewa Cree Tribe (1/30)
Warm Springs Tribes play host to unmanned drone test grounds (1/30)
Eastern Cherokees still working to improve dangerous highway (1/30)
Key lawmakers remain opposed to Yucca Mountain nuclear site (1/30)
Kootenai Tribe: The truth about the regulation of Indian gaming (1/30)
Mike Hoeft: Bingo games brought Oneida Nation together again (1/30)
Menominee Nation won't give up on off-reservation gaming plan (1/30)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community approves casino market study (1/30)
Seminole Tribe wins preliminary approval for New Jersey gaming (1/30)
Native Sun News: Alcohol a common factor in Rapid City murders (1/29)
Ivan Star: Ignoring alcoholism leads to destruction of the Lakota (1/29)
John Barrasso: Empowering Indian Country in the GOP Congress (1/29)
Criminal charges possible over mistreatment of Indian students (1/29)
Seneca Nation doesn't foresee taking action on legal marijuana (1/29)
Elderly member of Colville Tribes seriously injured in hit and run (1/29)
Fifteen charged over theft of Yakama Nation scholarship money (1/29)
Judge orders self-proclaimed 'shaman' back to custody in Texas (1/29)
Nevada City Rancheria objects to leasing of land to another tribe (1/29)
Mississippi Choctaws to hold grand opening for new $55M hospital (1/29)
Opinion: Celebrate the Native origin of the Seattle Seahawks logo (1/29)
First Nations Experience to grow with $6M from San Manuel Band (1/29)
Governor won't rethink Menominee Nation off-reservation casino (1/29)
Cayuga Nation back in court to defend Class II gaming operation (1/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in revenue at gaming enterprise (1/29)
Gaming machines at non-Indian tracks stir controversy in Idaho (1/29)
Native Sun News: Tribes ask Obama to deny Keystone XL permit (1/28)
Native Sun News: Native youth take stand against Keystone bid (1/28)
Tara Houska: Respect treaties and reject Keystone XL Pipeline (1/28)
Mark Trahant: Obama administration steps up for environment (1/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds first meeting & hearing (1/28)
House committee won't restore Indian and Alaska Native panel (1/28)
Opinion: Affordable Care Act offers behavorial health services (1/28)
Sami Jo Difuntorum: Support needed for Indian housing update (1/28)
Albert Bender: Stop glorification of Indian killer Andrew Jackson (1/28)
Amanda Blackhorse: Navajo leader defends racist NFL mascot (1/28)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Our kids should be able to go anywhere (1/28)
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.