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:
Indian Country again shares stage on final night of Dem convention (7/29)
Lakota Country Times: Summer program connects with Native youth (7/29)
Native Sun News: Native POP celebrates Native artists in Rapid City (7/29)
Clara Caufield: Tribal governments often discourage the free press (7/29)
Denver American Horse: Veterans column in the Lakota language (7/29)
Tweedy Sombrero Navarrete: Christians call to protect sacred land (7/29)
Navajo Nation lawmaker accuses colleague of sexual harassment (7/29)
Native Democrats make urgent case for Hillary Clinton as president (7/28)
Mark Trahant: The story is far from over for Senator Bernie Sanders (7/28)
Native Sun News: Indian Health Service eyes new hospital in Rapid (7/28)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must start fitness revolution (7/28)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Show respect for sacred Lakota family unit (7/28)
Gyasi Ross: It's gonna be awhile before the first Native president (7/28)
Harlan McKosato: Violence against Native people swept under rug (7/28)
Harold Monteau: Even more lessons in indigenous law and policy (7/28)
Indian Country shares spotlight at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Recap: Native American Council at Democratic National Convention (7/27)
Lakota Country Times: SuAnne Big Crow Center focuses on fitness (7/27)
Native Sun News: Tribal college showcases works of Lakota artists (7/27)
Vi Waln: Too many of our own people continue to smoke cigarettes (7/27)
Andre Cramblit: Growing wiser in my return to Dartmouth College (7/27)
Indian Country makes presence known at Democratic convention (7/26)
Tim Giago: Questioning the motto of GOP candidate Donald Trump (7/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala team lands Indian relay title again (7/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes honor author of Indian Child Welfare Act (7/26)
Delphine Red Shirt: Let's eat food that's always been good for us (7/26)
Peter d'Errico: Luci Tapahonso tackles legacy of boarding schools (7/26)
Donald Trump tried to partner with Agua Caliente Band on casino (7/26)
Native American Council meets at Democratic National Convention (7/25)
Police officer cleared over fatal shooting of Navajo Nation woman (7/25)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Donald Trump and his campaign of hatred (7/25)
Native Sun News: Tribal advocate focuses on Great Plains efforts (7/25)
Lakota Country Times: Descendants of Pine Ridge legend gather (7/25)
Johnny Rustywire: Navajo mother works hard at motel for family (7/25)
Alex Jacobs: Nation finally admits problem with policing and race (7/25)
Dwaine Perry: Ramapough Lunaape Nation marching for justice (7/25)
Charges filed for assault on disabled member of Nisqually Tribe (7/25)
Man arrested for American Indian Movement flag settles lawsuit (7/25)
Interior Department consults tribes about new trust reform law (7/22)
Training sessions planned for final Indian Child Welfare Act rule (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.