Taxation Without Representation
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to give you a little background on my personal experience with the Crow Indian government and their unconstitutional use of sovereign immunity.
In 1985, I legally and lawfully purchased 25 acres of land in Crow Agency, Montana, from the Crow Indian government. The tribal government was eager to sell this unimproved parcel to me, and did not hesitate to take my money. The property was officially removed from the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Trust by the federal government and by the Crow tribal government, and put into my name as a legal citizen of the United States of America and a resident of the State of Montana. With that official act, all rights and jurisdiction of the Crow tribal government over that parcel of land (and over my family and myself) was extinguished, and we began paying property taxes to Big Horn County and the State of Montana, and income taxes to the Internal Revenue Service. Naturally, my family conducted our private and public lives according to the tenets of the United States Constitution and the laws and ordinances of the State of Montana.
On that land, I built my home and opened a small business. From the day my business opened, every transaction that we conducted was subject to, and met, the retail/business laws, sales and excise tax laws, commercial ordinances, etc., of Big Horn County, the State of Montana, and United States Government. My business was a success by most standards, certainly by the standards of other local businesses in the small town of Crow Agency.
My dreams were shattered in 1994, however, when the current Crow tribal government began making threats, demanding extortion money (in the form of "resort" taxes that they insisted they could impose because my fee land was within the outer borders of the Crow reservation), and finally by placing a lien on my real property and clouding the title. If left unchecked, this would force me to close my business and lose my entire livelihood. My ability to provide for my family was and remains severely impacted. My children's college education and my retirement are no longer secure, as I have been forced to spend all of my time and energies, and have thrown away more than $80,000 of my family's savings fighting this outrageous injustice in both tribal and State courts.
I am not the only landholder to be held hostage by the Crow in such a way. There are 50 - 60 other individuals and businesses who are also being stripped of their livelihoods and homes by the unconstitutional actions of this dependent "sovereign nation."
In April 1994, the current Crow tribal government issued their initial demand for a 4% "resort tax" on me and 50 - 60 other fee land owners. I refused to pay this illegal tax, because, like my forefathers, I will not stand for taxation without representation. I am not now nor have I ever been an enrolled member of the Crow tribe, and therefore never have and never will have recognized representation in their courts. However, my only recourse was to fight them in their courts. Guess what? I lost. The Crow's "Tribal Tax Commission" immediately submitted a claim against me with the Big Horn County Attorney, Christine Cook, in the form of a lien on my property.
I took the matter to state court, suing to have the lien removed. A state judge ordered that the lien was in fact illegal, and granted my request. The Crow government appealed to the Montana State Supreme Court, which ruled that the validity of the lien could not even be discussed because it is not possible to sue an Indian government in a state court in the first place. Now the Crow tribal government is threatening to seize my inventory and land using BIA Federal police and county legal mechanisms (like the County Attorney, the Sheriff and the Board of Commissioners are also enrolled Crow government members). Unfortunately, I have been unable to appeal the court's ruling because I simply cannot afford to do so. How unbelievable is it that the tribal government (whose members by law do not pay county or state income or property taxes) can use county and state legal mechanisms, which my tax dollars pay for, to cloud my title and steal my land, my business and inventory, my home, my children's education, and my retirement away from me, all the while hiding its larceny under the cloak of the "sovereign nation"?
It is incomprehensible to me that my government and my country have left me defenseless against this greedy, unscrupulous "nation." Please explain how I can be expected to satisfy the demands of two "sovereign nations" while enjoying the rights and protections of neither? Isn't fighting taxation without representation at the very foundation of this country and all it stands for?
James "Putt" Thompson
P.O. Box 200
Garryowen, MT 59031
Phone: (406) 638-2020
Fax: (406) 638-2019