New Yorkers support Indian Treaty rights in tobacco dispute

The news reports that a survey found that 69% of New York voters want the state to honor Indian treaty rights.

The poll showed strong support for Indian treaties which prevent taxation of Native American-sold goods, according to a Zogby International poll conducted on behalf of the Seneca Nation of Indians.

The poll, conducted the week of August 23, 2010, found 68.4 percent of those surveyed think state and federal governments should honor Indian treaties – specifically the Treaty of 1842 – which bars state taxation of Seneca businesses.

“Once again the people of New York State have voiced their support of our rights as a sovereign nation. This is especially heart-warming for all Haudenosaunee Nations as the state is poised to enforce its illegal sales tax scheme on September 1,” said Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry E. Snyder Sr.
The statewide Zogby telephone survey found overwhelming support for honoring Indian treaty rights regardless of geographic regions, political affiliation, gender, race, age or religion.

The survey, which measured opinions of 702 respondents also found highly-favorable views of New York State’s Native American nations and business people. Results show 79.5 percent have favorable opinions of Native American nations and tribes, which 74 percent hold favorable views of Native American business people. But 66.3 percent said they have unfavorable views of the State Legislature, while 55.4 percent give low marks to Governor Paterson.

The extremely positive treaty rights responses mirror data from similar Zogby polls conducted in 2004 and 2006 as the Seneca Nation and other Native Americans involved in the tobacco industry faced the threat of taxation by New York State.

The Seneca Nation filed a lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western District of New York on August 17 challenging amendments to New York State Tax Law sections 471 and 471-e that were enacted on June 21, 2010; as well as emergency regulations promulgated by the Department of Taxation and Finance in an effort to implement those statutory provisions.

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