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Osage Nation will appeal to Supreme Court

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August 12, 2010

An appeal to a tax ruling will be coming in the next for months over a 9 year old law suit. The disagreement is whether or not Osgae Nation tribal members that live and work in Osage County should be exempt from state income taxes. Chief John Red Eagle stated he will file the appeal before October 22.

The tribe claims that Congress never disestablished the northeastern Oklahoma reservation. Therefore federal law gives exemption to tribal members from paying income taxes to the state.

In 2009 James Payne, U.S. District Court Judge, ruled that the tribe's reservation no longer exists. Stating that Osage County had been governed by the state for over 100 years. That it was only recently that the tribe had tried to re-establish their claimed reservation.

The tribe was denied in May by the appeals court for a case rehearing. The tribe was then given a new deadline of August 23 to file an appeal with the Supreme Court. An extension date was granted to the tribe due to tribal elections.

Since 2005 three tribal casinos have been operating in Tulsa, Ponca City, and Skiatook. The National Indian Gaming Commission allowed for the tribes to own the casinos since the stated the Osage Reservation still existed. If the tribe looses the case, they could lose the casinos. The casinos will not be operating on land held in trust as required by Oklahoma.

A letter was sent on Monday by Governer Brad Henry to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The governor is asking for help for the Osage Nation to placing land into federal trust and to avoid the closure of the facilities.

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