Editorial: Lack of leadership on Oneida Nation issues

"The problem here is the lack of true leadership - from the [Oneida] Nation, from the counties and from the state. While the issues on the table are complex, common sense is part of the solution to this stalemate.

* The Oneidas need to pay their fair share of taxes. They claim otherwise because they are sovereign, yet they rely on other governments for roads, fire protection and other services paid for by town and state taxpayers.

* Gov. Eliot Spitzer needs to begin collecting sales taxes on Indian sales to non-Indians. Collecting the tax is supported by a 1994 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. Spitzer said at the beginning of the year that he planned to collect the taxes - he even included revenue expected in his budget - but halfway through the fiscal year, nothing has been done. Few would disagree that Indian sales to other Indians is fair play, but it's wrong that Indian-owned businesses avoid paying sales tax on purchases by non-Indians. This gives them a big advantage over other local businesses.

* And, yes, the Oneidas should be granted licenses to sell liquor on their properties. They have shown they can operate without alcohol, but liquor is a legal beverage and to deny this amenity to customers is not logical. It only prevents the Nation from adding to their already successful operations.

The land claim is complicated, but recent rulings at least pave the way toward reaching a settlement. In June, the U.S. Department of the Interior affirmed the validity of New York state's 1993 gaming compact with the Oneida Nation. That eliminated any threat - real or imagined - that the casino would close and put 5,000-plus employees out of work."

Get the Story:
Editorial: No liquor for Nation hurts entire region (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 10/6)

Land Claim Court Decision:
Oneida Nation v. New York (May 21, 2007)

Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
Oneida Nation of New York Conveyance of Lands Into Trust (November 2006)

Relevant Links:
Oneida Nation Trust - http://www.oneidanationtrust.com
Indian Nation Fee-to-Trust Land Acquisition Applications in New York State - http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/888.html
Oneida Nation, New York - http://www.oneida-nation.net

Sherrill v. Oneida Nation Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Souter] | Dissent [Stevens]

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