A New York law that takes effect on September 1 will prohibit Indian tribes in New York from selling tax-free cigarettes to the public but the tribes vow not to take this lying down.
In what is called a historic meeting of the Haudenosaunee or Iroquois - comprised of the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Seneca nations - the confederacy issued a statement reaffirming their ancient unity with the goal of defending their sovereign rights against the "foreign nation" of New York.
The leaders assert that the latest infringement on their sovereignty is the imposition of state taxes on cigarettes sold on the reservations and the public statement drafted Wednesday was meant to alert the state and tribal members of their position.
The Seneca Nation filed a suit against Governor Paterson, the acting tax commissioner and state police to stop the collection of state taxes.
The new law will require cigarette wholesalers to have tax stamps on cigarettes delivered to the reservation. In recent decades, the state has announced its intent to collect state taxes on cigarettes sold on the reservations but backed down from that threat.
The Seneca Nation council also authorized the tribe's president to file human rights and hate crimes complaints with local, state and international bodies against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his statement to New York Governor David Paterson on the September 1 deadline, "you know, get yourself a cowboy hat and a shotgun" to collect the cigarette taxes.
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