WIGA News Clips March 30, 2005 LOCAL A workable tax deal for tribe and state The Seattle Times 3/30/05 Nisqually Tribe keeps sights on the land Indian Country Today 3/28/05 NATIONAL Indian gambling ventures gain governors' focus The Olympian 3/30/05 Supreme Court rejects Oneida argument in Sherrill Indian Country Today 3/29/05 LOCAL A workable tax deal for tribe and state Quil Ceda Village, the Tulalip Tribes' retail enclave on the Tulalip Reservation, helps power the Snohomish County economy with jobs and tax receipts. The tribe deserves a share of sales taxes — a city's share — to help cover expenses. The village is not a city created by the state, but a federally chartered political subdivision, the only one in Washington. Quil Ceda has all the typical police, fire, emergency medical services and municipal overhead. House Bill 1721 allows Quil Ceda Village to receive sales taxes as any other city. Overreaching versions of this idea bounced around Olympia for years, but HB 1721 is an improved, transparent and equitable deal. For years, the tribe argued it was entitled to all sales taxes, including the state's share. In the midst of this losing political debate, retailers continued to collect the sales taxes and ship them to the state Department of Revenue, which divvied them up among the county and state. Quil Ceda never had a sales-tax advantage over retailers off tribal land and that does not change with passage of the legislation. The only adjustment is the city share would reduce the portion that goes to Snohomish County. The Snohomish County Council is upset about losing an estimated $1.7 million in 2006 tax collections, but the loss is no different than if other county land had been annexed by any growing municipality. Counties regularly lose tax base through annexations because it is generally assumed cities are the appropriate providers of services to areas that rise to urban-type concentrations of activity. As a practical matter, the Tulalips are expanding their business park and the county stands to get an ever-larger amount of tax receipts from the growth. The employment is nice as well. The bill only applies to the Tulalips; other tribes would have to secure approval of the Legislature. The Tulalips also accept the auditing and administrative practices of the Department of Revenue. The House overwhelmingly approved a practical, transparent arrangement. The Senate should, too. Nisqually Tribe keeps sights on the land Posted: March 28, 2005 by: Jean Johnson / Indian Country Today PORTLAND, Ore. - Anyone who's ever suffered a financial setback knows how long it can take to get back on one's feet. There's the depression and dissolution that sets in during the bad times. However a person slices it, life with few resources is tough; and the thought of conserving the environment in the middle of all the confusion is nearly unthinkable. That's why the Nisqually Tribe's accomplishment is particularly noteworthy. ''Pact puts Nisqually land in federal hands: Fish and Wildlife to take from tribe day-today control of 310 acres in refuge'' is how the headline in the local paper read. And it's true: the tribe has agreed to a 25-year co-management deal on their land with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. But the underlying story is where the real excitement is - how, in the midst of disruption and impoverishment that has struck at the very heart of the Nisqually culture, the tribe went up against the goliath of American industrialization and stood for a way of life and the ecosystem on which it depended. That's why, in 1996, the tribe scraped together enough cash to buy a $2.4 million, 310acre farm at the mouth of the Nisqually River to take out dikes that kept the salt water at bay and allow the emerald-green agricultural land to return to its natural marshy state at the estuary. So far the tribe's focused on just 40 acres, though this summer the Nisqually will remove another dike and allow the tidal flux to wash into another 100 acres to rebuild what was once prime salmon habitat. The tribe couldn't really afford to do what it did, of course. Not only buying the parcel, but restoring the land has taken money away from badly-needed social and educational programs. But leaders thought it was a sound investment. And they were right. Now that at least some of the deep-pocketed folks in mainstream society have taken an interest in preserving natural ecosystems, people have come knocking on the Nisqually Tribe's door: particularly those associated with the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge that surrounds the farm the Nisqually tribe purchased. The deal allows the refuge to build a path for bird watchers on the tribal parcel. In return, Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., secured $800,000 in federal funds for the tribe that in part compensates for the farm's purchase: money the tribe can funnel into other needed programs. David Troutt, natural resources director for the Nisqually Tribe, thinks the arrangement is a good one. ''Everyone will benefit from the stewardship outlined in this agreement,'' said Troutt. ''Salmon will continue to return to the Nisqually River and the public will be welcome to visit this special place.'' Nisqually Tribal Chairman Dorian Sanchez agreed. ''It's essentially a win-win for everybody.'' Regional director of USFWS, Dave Allen, concurred. ''This is, by any measure, a milestone for us. It's a model for working with tribes in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the country.'' A model. Innocent, even boring words, maybe. But in light of history, calling the arrangement a model is an understatement. Dicks remembers when the public outcry over the Port of Tacoma wanting to build a port in the Nisqually Delta back in 1974 was so fierce that the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge was established. And Sanchez raised the specter of the early 1970s when tribal fishermen were subjected to routine police assaults. Back then, not only wasn't it de rigueur for Indians to buy back ancestral land and cut deals, state machinations to keep tribal members from exercising treaty rights to fish at usual and accustomed places - both on- and off-reservation - were rampant. The days to which Sanchez referred were those in which savvy members of the Nisqually and Puyallup tribes staged highly publicized ''fish-ins'' that led to the landmark Boldt decision that ruled tribes were entitled to half the fish in the rivers. In an effort to make way for the crush of land-hungry settlers in the 1850s, territorial governor of Washington Isaac Stevens tried to coerce the tribes into relinquishing nearly all of the 2.24 million acres of prime land on the Puget Sound and Olympic Peninsula. The Nisqually refused to sign the initial treaty because while American settlers were being issued 160 acres each through the Homestead Act, Indians were reduced to a mere four acres apiece. Further, Stevens wanted them to live on a small tract of scrubland removed from their life-giving river. War ensued and the outnumbered Indians paid dearly. In 1858, the Nisqually chief, Leschi, was hanged. Leschi's martyrdom, though, was partly responsible for the U.S. government eventually redressing wrongs to some extent and assigning the tribe a reservation on the river. In short, it's been a long haul for the Nisqually people. After they were finally resettled, their children were taken away to boarding schools during the first part of the 20th century. And during World War I, the U.S. military confiscated 3,370 acres of their reservation to create the Fort Lewis Military Reserve. Only after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act and World War II veterans came home did the Nisqually organize a government and start to recoup losses that had accrued over the past 100 years. Thus, that the tribe has reached a place where it can not only purchase modest parcels of land for the purpose of environmental restoration, but also negotiate agreements with the federal government, is notable to say the least. Then again, when people know what their priorities are - or whence comes their sustenance - it's easier to stay on track and not get lost in an industrialized commercial world that often gives mixed signals about what it means to live on the earth. NATIONAL Indian gambling ventures gain governors' focus COLLEEN SLEVIN ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER DENVER -- Amid growing conflicts between the $20 billion Indian casino business and state governments, Western governors and tribal leaders gathered Tuesday in Colorado to take a look at the industry. "We want tribes to develop economically, but we want to balance that with other gaming and economic development opportunities," South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds said at the opening of a two-day meeting of the Western Governors Association. The association consists of the chief executives of 18 states, including Washington, plus Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. Colorado Gov. Bill Owens said Western states need to look at the proliferating Indian gambling business, with Congress considering changes to the 1988 federal law that allowed tribes to open casinos. Neither the association nor Owens, the group's chairman, has advocated specific changes in the law. Owens' spokesman, Dan Hopkins, said the governors' meeting could result in some recommendations for changes. The governors and representatives of 23 tribes plan to discuss the rapid expansion of Indian gambling, off-reservation casinos, federal laws and new technology that could affect federal regulations. Keller George, president of the United South and Eastern Tribes, a confederation of tribes from Florida to Maine and from South Carolina to Texas, said he is concerned about outof-state tribes claiming land and building casinos with the financial backing of developers. "The bottom line for the developers is money, but the bottom line for tribes is to advance the people," said George, a member of New York's Oneida Indian Nation and a member of the commission that runs the Turning Stone Casino and Resort. ON THE WEB Western Governors Association: www.westgov.org Supreme Court rejects Oneida argument in Sherrill Posted: March 29, 2005 by: Staff Reports / Indian Country Today Says Interior process only way to go WASHINGTON - Invoking the Doctrine of Discovery, the Supreme Court said repurchased Indian land does not unilaterally revert to tribal sovereign status. In an 8 to 1 ruling, the court determined that the Oneida Indian Nation of New York ''cannot unilaterally revive its ancient sovereignty, in whole or in part, over the parcels at issue. The Oneidas long ago relinquished the reins of government and cannot regain them through open-market purchases from current titleholders.'' Delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote: ''Congress has provided a mechanism for the acquisition of lands for tribal communities that takes account of the interests of others with stakes in the area's governance and well being. Title 25 U.S.C. / 465 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to acquire land in trust for Indians and provides that the land 'shall be exempt from state and local taxation.''' The Nation had contended that its several repurchased properties, located within the reservation originally occupied by the Oneidas, are exempt from taxation. Its refusal to pay assessed property taxes prompted the City of Sherrill to initiate eviction proceedings in state court, and the Nation to sue Sherrill in federal court for ''equitable relief prohibiting, currently and in the future, the imposition of property taxes,'' Ginsberg wrote. In the sole dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out that "this case involves an Indian tribe's claim to tax immunity on its own property located within its reservation. It does not implicate the tribe's immunity from other forms of state jurisdiction, nor does it concern the tribe's regulatory authority over property owned by non-Indians within the reservation ... It is undisputed that the City seeks to collect property taxes on parcels of land that are owned by the Tribe and located within the historic boundaries of its reservation. "Since the outset of this litigation it has been common ground that if the Tribe's properties are 'Indian Country,' the City has no jurisdiction to tax them without express congressional consent ... It is abundantly clear that all of the land owned by the Tribe within the boundaries of its reservation qualifies as Indian country ... The Court today nevertheless decides that the fact that most of the reservation has been occupied and governed by non-Indians for a long period of time precludes the Tribe 'from rekindling embers of sovereignty that long ago grew cold.'" The Oneidas are pursuing a separate land claim for 270,000 acres taken illegally by New York state in the early 19th century, and the Supreme Court itself in the mid 1980s twice upheld the Nation's right to bring the suit. These legal precedents weighed heavily with the lower federal courts in granting the Oneidas an injunction against Sherrill's tax actions. For the full text of the Supreme Court's decision, visit http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/03855.ZS.html.