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Tribe Rejects Shawnee City Mediation Offer

Saturday, April, 12, 2014


A call for mediation by Shawnee City to settle a dispute over sales tax issues has been unceremoniously rejected by the Potawatomi Nation Indian Tribe in the State of Oklahoma in the United States.


The dispute stems from the city’s attempts to require the tribe to collect sales tax on non-tribal members who make purchases on tribal lands.  The Indian Tribe is considered a sovereign entity under treaties signed with the United States federal government and tribal members are not subject to local taxes.  The city has argued that many non-tribal members seek to avoid paying sales taxes by making purchases on Indian lands, and that the tribe should accommodate their request for tax enforcement.


For the Potawatomi Tribe, however, the issue is not about sales taxes but about illegal land seizure.  In a statement rejecting the call for mediation, the tribe stated that “It’s premature for mediation because of our vastly different opinions of what the facts are in this matter.  We are not in the City of Shawnee because of the illegal annexation of our land in 1961 ...  We will wait for the City of Shawnee to provide us with evidence that we are within the city limits.”


Shawnee City is most likely incapable of compelling the tribe to engage in either tax collection or mediation.  While a lawsuit could be filed, the sovereign status of the tribe will most likely trump any claims the city has.