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Mohawks prefer diplomacy in tobacco tax fight

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Last year, Governor Paterson signed into law a bill that would enforce collection of state tobacco taxes when non-natives buy cigarettes at native-owned stores. Albany estimates up to 400 million dollars a year in taxes are going uncollected. But like his three predecessors, Paterson's administration said last week it will not try to collect the taxes. Remember when the Seneca Nation burned tires on the Thruway when then-Governor George Pataki tried to collect them? The whole issue is knotted up in lawsuits. New York City is suing a Long Island tribe. Two counties are suing the Cayuga Nation. The rulings could set precedents in the now cloudy case of tobacco taxes and native tribes. Jim Ransom says there's an easy solution - sit down and talk. Ransom is chief of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. The Mohawks are at odds with New York State over three issues - the cigarette taxes, land claims in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, and building a casino in the Catskills. Ransom says one agreement can resolve them all.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

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