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    Indian Nation Gives Check to City of Oneida

    City seeks to collect sales taxes from Nation's convenience stores.

    ONEIDA, N.Y. -- The city of Oneida is $100,000 richer thanks to a controversial grant from the Oneida Indian Nation, whose leaders handed over the check on Monday, reported Syracuse, N.Y.-based News 10 Now.

    The Oneida Nation owns 12 Sav-On convenience stores around Madison and Oneida counties and currently does not pay any tax to New York State on retail sales. The main commodities in discussion are tobacco and fuel, which the Oneidas sell at a much lower price than non-Indian retailers.

    While it doesn't solve the ongoing land claim issues and calls to collect taxes from all the nation's convenience stores, both sides say it's the first step in smoothing out a rough relationship.

    "We proposed to them if they in fact to want to be good neighbors, if they do want to do something for the city, we would certainly accept the gift," Oneida Deputy Mayor Ted Hanifin said.

    In February, an organization called FACT (Fair Application of Cigarette Taxes) Alliance employed lawn signs, brochures and posters at more than 5,000 upstate New York convenience stores to draw attention to what it claims is the financial hardship caused by Native American businesses not paying taxes on cigarettes sold to non-Indians.

    "[The New York Association of Convenience Stores] believes in a level playing field, Jim Calvin, president of the Albany-based New York Association of Convenience Stores, told CS News. "And a level playing field is one on which every property owner pays their fair share of taxes and every retailer collects applicable taxes."

    Oneida Indian Nation Men's Council Chuck Fougnier insists the tribe is trying to cooperate with the city. "We hope they can see that we're doing the best we can here, and we just want to work with the city," said Fougnier.

    Mayor Leo Matzke says he'll use the money for public works projects.

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