County Sheriff blockades Unkechaug smokeshops
Long Island, New York (ICC)
County police from the Suffolk Sheriff’s Department set up a police blockade on Dec. 8, warning purchasers of cigarettes from four reservation smoke shops that they faced arrest upon leaving the 55 acre reservation on the end of Long Island. Chief Harry Wallace called the police presence harassment, and an assault on tribal sovereignty over one of the main sources of income for the small tribe. Wallace also questioned the role of county police officers rather than state authorities. “We have always negotiated these issues directly with New York officials in the past,” said Wallace, who noted that officers were still traveling in packs on reservation roads and passing out flyers he said contained false information about the purchase of tobacco products from Poospatuck Reservation stores.
Congress sends Bush extension to the Violence Against Women Act
Washington, D.C. (AP)
Congress on Dec. 17 sent President Bush an extension of the Violence Against Women Act that would increase funding for the landmark act. The Violence Against Women Act, which is aimed at curtailing domestic violence through funding for women’s shelters and law-enforcement training, expired in September. The original legislation was championed by Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn. The extension includes new provisions focused on health care, early intervention and outreach to American Indian women, among other areas.
Rehberg turns back money from Abramoff, clients
Helena, Montana (AP)
U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg has relinquished $19,900 in campaign donations received from indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his clients, a spokesman for the Montana Republican said. The $2,000 from Abramoff himself has been given to domestic violence centers on Montana’s Fort Belknap and Fort Peck reservations, spokesman Erik Iverson said Dec. 16. Other donations were returned to the tribes that were Abramoff’s clients, Iverson said. “It’s all done,” Iverson told the Lee Newspapers of Montana. “The checks are out the door.”
Some financing found for tribal health care facility
New Town, North Dakota (AP)
The Three Affiliated Tribes’ plan to build a health care facility for the Fort Berthold Reservation in New Town has attracted about $300,000 for site development. A site in New Town has been selected, and officials say the city council supports the project. Also, other financing is in the works for the project, which could cost $40 million to build. Tribal leaders say they’ve been told funding will be sought in the federal government’s next two budget cycles. Tex Hall, tribal chairman, said project leaders have visited health care facilities at Hopi, Ariz., and Fort Belknap, Mont., and will go to more to get ideas for the New Town project.
Four more convicted in drug/gang-related crime
Madison, Wisconsin (AP)
A federal jury has convicted four men of a years-long conspiracy to distribute cocaine and other drugs in northern Wisconsin. The latest convictions bring to 36 the number of people sent to prison for drug trafficking on and around the Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Reservation near Hayward, Wisconsin, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said. A jury Dec. 13 found the four men – Pedro Zamora, 23, of Hayward; Jorge Barragan, 25, Ernesto Estrada III, 38, and Florentino Castillo, 27, all of Milwaukee – guilty of conspiring to distribute cocaine and crack cocaine between 1999 and 2003. Prosecutors said the defendants conspired to transport the drugs from Milwaukee and Minneapolis to the reservation, selling some of them to individuals and some to the Latin King Nation gang operating there.
Haliwa-Saponi plan amusement park in N.C.
Hollister, North Carolina (AP)
The Haliwa-Saponi plan to build a Native American-themed amusement park just south of Roanoke Rapids, the tribe’s chief said. The tribe contracted B&R Associates to develop a preliminary design and a rendering of the proposed park, Chief Ronnie Richardson told the Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids. The proposed site is 118 acres near Interstate 95, Tribal Administrator Archie Lynch said. The site would be developed in two phases, with the first phase costing an estimated $30 million.
Legislator says Ute
tribes avoiding state taxes
Denver, Colorado (AP)
A state legislator has complained to Gov. Bill Owens that the Ute are unfairly avoiding sales taxes on items they sell to non-Indians. Rep. Mark Larson, R-Cortez, specifically mentioned sales of cement, gravel and asphalt in a letter to Owens during November. He also said the tribes do not pay the state fuel tax for vehicles operating off the reservation or licensing fees on those vehicles. Attorneys for the Ute Mountain Ute and the Southern Ute, who operate as sovereign nations and are exempt from many taxes, said the tribes pay all taxes that are due. Sky Ute Sand and Gravel, which is owned by the Southern Utes, paid more than $500,000 in state and federal taxes last year, said Tom Shipps, an attorney for the tribe.
Petition seeks new elections at Mescalero
Mescalero, New Mexico (AP)
A former candidate for president of the Mescalero Apache has challenged the November election, saying his name was improperly removed from the ballot. Carleton Naiche-Palmer, in a petition seeking a new election, contends his name was wrongly taken off the ballot the day before the September primary election. The petition, filed Dec. 7 and containing 726 signatures, calls for the Mescalero Council to toss out the general election results and schedule a new election. Council secretary Naomi Sainz said she and her staff are certifying the petition signatures.
Three Affiliated Tribes looking at biodiesel plants
Makoti, North Dakota (AP)
Three Affiliated Tribes officials are watching plans for biodiesel plants in Minot and Velva, as they consider including biodiesel fuel in their own plans for a new oil refinery on the Fort Berthold Reservation. “Our business plan will have to be looked at... to see if the market can take another one, or do we work within their capacity?” Tribal Chairman Tex Hall said.
Ute forms Ute Energy to develop tribal resources
Salt Lake City, Utah (AP)
The Northern Ute have formed an integrated energy company to develop resources on its Uintah-Ouray Reservation in eastern Utah. Ute Energy was formed in May and is a privately owned corporation of the tribe. “This basin has notoriously held a great deal of oil reserves,” said John Jurrius, interim chief executive officer of Ute Energy. “I would say within the matrix of basins within the Rocky Mountains that the Uinta Basin is certainly one of the most active basins.”
Wyoming Governor meets with Arapaho leaders
Ethete, Wyoming (AP)
In an effort to smooth out their rocky relationship, Gov. Dave Freudenthal and Northern Arapaho leaders agreed during a cordial but candid discussion to improve communication. Among the topics discussed in the Dec. 2 meeting were gambling, severance taxes and sovereignty. Freudenthal met with Eastern Shoshone and Riverton leaders later in the day. Freudenthal, flanked by tribal liaison Allison Sage, started the discussion with Arapaho leaders by bringing up the conflict over casino gambling.
South Dakota man pleads innocent to murder charges
Pierre, South Dakota (AP)
A Dupree man has pleaded not guilty to federal charges in the gunshot death of another man on the Cheyenne River Reservation. Sam Andrew Reede, 18, is charged with second-degree murder and using a gun during a crime of violence. The plea was entered Dec. 2 in federal court in Pierre. He is accused of killing Quentin LeCompte on Nov. 7, in Dupree. Reede could get up to life in prison if convicted.
Court hears Narragansett smoke shop case appeal
Boston, Massachusetts (AP)
The state of Rhode Island asked a federal appeals court Dec. 6 to reconsider its ruling that the state violated the sovereignty of the Narragansett when it raided a tax-free smoke shop. In May, a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state violated the tribe’s sovereignty when state police raided the shop, seized cigarettes and arrested tribal leaders in July 2003. The court, however, said the federally recognized tribe was breaking state law by selling tobacco tax-free and ruled the state could collect taxes on the tribe’s cigarette sales to non-Indians.