Throwing a wrench in Governor Paterson's plan to collect cigarette taxes on cigarettes from Indian Tribes starting today, a Buffalo judge ruled yesterday that the Seneca and Cayuga tribes would not have to pay cigarette sales taxes for at least two weeks. But that doesn't mean all tribes are safe. Paterson spokeswoman Jessica Bassett told the Times Union that "it will be against the law for licensed stamping agents to sell unstamped cigarettes to any nation or tribe other than the Seneca and Cayuga."
Rather than trespass on tribe land, Paterson said that the taxes will be imposed via wholesalers, who were previously exempt from affixing tax stamps to packs of cigarettes sold to Indian reservations. Now they must put the stamps on any packs sold to tribes other than the Seneca and Cayuga. Paterson told reporters, “We are not interfering with the sovereignty of any Indian nations. We are just making changes to the way we distribute cigarettes in our state." However, the tribes think of the taxes differently.
Nicky Banks, a Shinnecock who owns the Eagle Feather Smoke Shop, told the Times, "We fought so hard for this land, and what little we have is being ripped from us. We can’t even focus on providing for our family because we’re so busy fighting government." A pack of Malboros at her store will now go for over $10, up from $5.70 yesterday. The last time the state attempted to collect cigarette taxes on Indian land in 1997, tribes protested by burning tires and cutting off traffic to Interstate 90.