Home > News > More Headlines > State's raid on tribal land sparks strong reactions
Printer friendly version
State's raid on tribal land sparks strong reactions
WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2003


STATE RAID: Troopers pin a tribal member on the ground. Click for More.

WJAR VIDEO: State troopers raid tribal smoke shop in Rhode Island. Click for More.
Update 4 p.m. EST: U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith met with lawyers for both sides this morning. He has set another hearing for Monday on the case. The state court complaint will not continue for now -- the federal court will hear the case.

A high-profile battle over a Rhode Island tribe's tax-free cigarette shop heads to court today as Indian leaders from across the nation reacted critically to the state's raid of the Narragansett Reservation.

U.S. District Judge William E. Smith will hear arguments on a temporary restraining order sought by the Narragansett Tribe. The lawsuit claims the state lacks jurisdiction over the tribe and that Congress has not subjected the tribe to state tax laws.

But in another courtroom, the state will be arguing the exact opposite. Gov. Donald Carcieri (R) and state attorney general Patrick Lynch have filed suit in county court, seeking to stop the tribe from selling tobacco products without collecting and remitting state taxes.

The sparring comes as Indian Country weighed in with its response to Monday's violent raid of the Narragansett's smoke shop. Tribal leaders who watched the video, which has been broadcast nationally, and learned of the incident said it brought back an era of tribal-state relations that many thought was long gone.

"It is inexcusable that a tribal leader would be target of violence by Rhode Island law enforcement officers," said Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, which represents dozens of tribes in California.

For Soulliere, the treatment of a tribe on the other side of the country was very personal -- she was vice-chair of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians when its card club was raided by state officials in 1981. Like the Narragansett case, the state claimed a right to impose its laws on Indian land, but the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1987, disagreed and upheld the tribe's rights.

Tex Hall, president of the National Congress of American Indians, which represents more than 200 tribes, also took issue with the state's handling of the raid. Although he said it was common for tribes and states to disagree, he emphasized cooperation, not conflict, in seeking to resolve disputes over jurisdiction.

"Imagine if federal marshals roughed up and arrested your governor and state leaders because the federal government disagreed with a decision made by your state government?" he said. "It is unfathomable."

NCAI recently participated in a Supreme Court case in which county officials in California used bolt-cutters to seize records belonging to the Bishop Paiute Shoshone Tribe. An amicus brief highlighted agreements tribes and states have entered into in order to prevent confrontations like the one witnessed in Rhode Island.

In nearby Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation said it supported the Narragansetts. "We are astonished at the level of intervention the state of Rhode Island has chosen in this matter, and we believe the level of force was inappropriate and unnecessary," a statement read.

The sentiments reflect a key issue that will be discussed in today's dual court hearings: the extent of the state's jurisdiction over activities on tribal land. The state's brief argues that the tribe's 1978 land claim settlement act clearly subjects the tribe to state criminal and civil law.

A similar debate occurred in the recent Inyo County v. Bishop Paiute Shoshone Tribe but no clear answer was given by the nation's high court. The tribes who took part in the case argued that while a state such as California might have jurisdiction over the actions of individual Indians, it cannot impose on a tribal sovereign, a view supported by the Bush administration in a Department of Justice brief.

In the federal 1st Circuit, which includes the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, court rulings in general have not been favorable to Indian interests. With the exception of a recent land-into-trust case involving the Mashantucket Tribe, the courts have held that various settlement acts limit the sovereign rights of tribes.

A judge in Massachusetts, however, somewhat broke with the mold when he ruled that the Gay Head Wampanoag Tribe can't be sued to comply with local zoning laws. The tribe's settlement agreement, like the Narragansett one, says the state has criminal and civil jurisdiction over tribal lands, but the judge said the law did not waive the tribe's sovereign immunity.

More on the Raid:
Video | Pictures | Text: Gov. Carcieri's July 14 Press Conference | Text: Gov. Carcieri's July 15 Statement | Text: Excerpts of Narragansett Chief Sachem July 14 Press Conference

Rhode Island's Court Filings:
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order | Washington County Superior Court Complaint

Relevant Laws:
Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act (US Code)

Relevant Links:
Narragansett Tribe - http://www.narragansett-tribe.org
Rhode Island Governor - http://www.governor.state.ri.us
Rhode Island Attorney General - http://www.riag.state.ri.us

Related Stories:
R.I. raids Narragansett tribal smoke shop (7/15)
Narragansett Tribe wants to head to federal court (7/15)
Analysis: Carcieri 'paternalistic' on Indians (7/15)
Column: Tribal smokeshop raid something out of 1963 (7/15)
Narragansett chief arrested in 'violent' raid (7/14)
R.I. governor promises to help Narragansett Tribe (06/04)
R.I. tribe upset over reservation checkpoint bill (05/30)
R.I. bill sets up reservation checkpoints (5/28)
R.I. tribe delays opening of tobacco shop (5/23)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Tribe questions fast-tracking of solar energy projects by Obama (9/4)
Navajo Nation celebrates closure of liquor businesses in Arizona (9/4)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe seeks building inspector for casino (9/4)
Native Sun News: Black Hills concert draws attention to treaties (9/4)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe approves FEMA contract (9/4)
Mark Trahant: Telling the story about tribal sovereignty in Alaska (9/4)
James Giago Davies: Imagining life for the Lakota with British rule (9/4)
Robert DesRosier: First responder network needs input from tribes (9/4)
Julianne Jennings: Strong reaction to campaign for Justice or Else (9/4)
Member of Nez Perce Tribe helped develop video game character (9/4)
Travel: Every member of Havasupai Tribe speaks their language (9/4)
Alabama won't appeal decision in Poarch Creek gaming lawsuit (9/4)
Osage Nation weighs plan to expand flagship casino with hotel (9/4)
Sycuan Band enters new Class III gaming compact in California (9/4)
Chukchansi Tribe revamping casino in anticipation of reopening (9/4)
President of Alaska Native village highlights threat to community (9/3)
President Barack Obama offers thoughts on historic trip to Alaska (9/3)
President Obama enjoys unique welcome in Alaska Native village (9/3)
Transcript: President Obama speaks in Native village of Kotzebue (9/3)
Democrats slam GOP candidate for comments about assimilation (9/3)
Poarch Creeks secure major ruling in gaming dispute in Alabama (9/3)
Native Sun News: City faces possible suit from Lakota 57 parents (9/3)
Lakota Country Times: Sinte Gleska University to expand campus (9/3)
Tim Giago: Republicans show hypocrisy on the 14th Amendment (9/3)
Ivan Star: 'English education' obliterated culture and language (9/3)
Gyasi Ross: Obama's checkered record on Native environment (9/3)
Opinion: Indian Child Welfare Act doesn't help Indian children (9/3)
Appeal planned in Grand Ronde Tribes disenrollment dispute (9/3)
Blackfeet Nation states opposition to drilling on sacred land (9/3)
Father of Native woman who died in jail cell considers lawsuit (9/3)
Oglala Sioux Tribe set to open $16.5M nursing home next year (9/3)
Donald Trump's campaign manager linked to Abramoff scandal (9/3)
Navajo Nation plans big development next to casino in Arizona (9/3)
Graton Rancheria breaks ground on $175M expansion at casino (9/3)
United Auburn Indian Community compact gains quick approval (9/3)
New Mexico tribes weren't involved in off-reservation casino bid (9/3)
Parents of Lakota 57 respond to not guilty verdict in Rapid City (9/2)
Grand Ronde Tribes to disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (9/2)
Lakota Country Times: New food bank on Pine Ridge Reservation (9/2)
Mark Trahant: FCC invents new law for tribal lands in Oklahoma (9/2)
Native Sun News Editorial: Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton (9/2)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Tribe needs to establish 'virtual' school (9/2)
Steven Newcomb: The religious basis of Doctrine of Discovery (9/2)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.