Rochester, NY, Aug 19, 2010 — Indian tribes are banding together to fight New York's attempt to collect taxes on tobacco sold at native-owned stores. Billed as an historic gathering of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy, chiefs from the Mohawk, Oneida, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Tuscarora Nations met outside Rochester today.
In a joint statement, they called New York "a foreign nation". And they called the Paterson Administration's move to collect cigarette taxes on reservations "an effort to erode our sovereignty."
The meeting comes a day after the Seneca Nation sued New York in U.S. District Court to block the tax collection.
Paterson says the taxes would bring hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue to the cash-strapped state. The tax collection is scheduled to begin on September 1st.
The last time New York tried to collect the tobacco taxes on native lands, members of the Seneca Nation burned tires on the New York State Thruway, shutting down New York's main east-west highway.