State escalates fight against Winnebago Tribe
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FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2002

The state of Kansas on Thursday issued an arrest warrant for officials of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, escalating a fight over a inter-tribal commerce gas deal.

Lance Morgan, CEO of the tribe's economic development corporation, was informed by the Kansas Attorney General's office of a multi-state warrant against himself and tribal chairman John Blackhawk. Both are under orders to be picked up and arrested if they travel on any state highway, Morgan was told.

The tribe was also informed that extradition procedures against Morgan and Blackhawk would be started. Kansas Attorney General Carla Stovall plans to ask the state of Nebraska, and not the Winnebago Tribe, to turn over the pair, her subordinates said.

The developments come in a battle over $1.25 million in gas distribution taxes the state claims are owed. Two trucks owned by an arm of Ho-Chunk Inc., the Winnebago Tribe's corporation, were seized this week by Kansas officials.

The trucks were being used to deliver gas to three tribes in Kansas. The Winnebago Tribe has entered into a distribution agreement with the Iowa, Kickapoo and Sac and Fox tribes.

As such, Morgan charged that the state of Kansas is making a "a mockery of government-to-government relations" by trying to meddle into inter-tribal affairs.

"They are ignoring the tribal aspect and are trying to morph this into a criminal action to put pressure on us and the other tribes," he told Indianz.Com.

In downplaying the tribal involvement, the Kansas Department of Revenue has cast the dispute as one of simple failure to pay taxes. Secretary Stephen Richards said seizing the trucks and moving to claim the money was a last resort.

Kansas officials yesterday did not return requests for additional comment.

Tribal officials are continuing to participate in negotiations with the state of Kansas. Discussions have been ongoing as the state applies more pressure.

The tribe has entered into a compact with the state of Nebraska over the collection of a gas sales tax. The tribe collects a 3-cent tax and shares 25 percent of revenues with the state.

Other states have also entered into similar agreements with tribes for different purposes. Retail and cigarette taxes are among the most common.

Ho-Chunk Inc. owns Indianz.Com and AllNative.Com.

Relevant Links:
The Winnebago Tribe -
Kansas Department of Revenue -

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