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In a judgment passed August 14, 1996, New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Harris gave New York State 120 days to begin collecting taxes on the sale of gasoline and cigarettes to non-Indians on reservations within Haudenosaunee Confederacy lands. As a result of the ensuing discussions between NY State and four Haudenosaunee 'representatives' -- who were, according to tax resisters of Haudenosaunee Nations, not authorized by the People of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy as being able to make agreements on their behalf -- an interim agreement was signed that the Haudenosaunee and NY State officials would collaborate to regulate various industries within Haudenosaunee lands. The agreement has obvious implications for Haudenosaunee sovereignty in letting NY State play a policing role in Haudenosaunee affairs.

The Kahnawake Branch of the Mohawk Nation emphasizes, "The State has violated the economic sovereignty of our people and our land, it is not the state that should be negotiating with the Confederacy, it is President Bill Clinton's responsibility." According to the Kahnawake Branch, the Chiefs who signed the agreement were "not supported by the people, they were negotiating away everyone's rights in favour of the state. They were going against their own people. Chiefs are being removed by the people, and some would like to rescind their signatures from the documents signed, although they knew the effect that their signing would have....The effects will be extreme poverty, welfare, theft, people will not be able to pay their mortgages - due to no employment. You get the picture. These people have not felt anything like this up to this point. It will be extremely hard for them. The State has not devised any sort of structure to replace this, and left the territories with nothing, yet the state of New York feels that they can take and take until there is nothing left. Our sovereignty is in jeopardy. These 'chiefs' have opened the door to the destruction of the Haudenosaunee Iroquois Confederacy's inherent right to sovereignty."

In 1997, people across Haudenosaunee nations, particularly the people of the Seneca Nation, protested the agreement by setting up information pickets, road blockades, and other peaceful means. In response, the state of New York sent massive numbers of police to the borders of these nations. There were several reports of brutality from NY police within the borders of Haudenosaunee lands. The people continue resisting.

Further background information

History of tax issue - to Oct. 13/96 Draft: 'Chiefs' response to New York state's tax proposal - note that this document is not supported by the people of the Haudenosaunee; it is posted here for reference only Text of the interim taxation agreement Mar 31/97 - Kanienkehaka statement regarding interim agreement


Letters of support for tax resisters

June 1997 - present

May 1997

April 1997

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