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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Crow Creek Fights IRS Infringement of Sovereignty

Where is the hue and cry from Allen Unruh, Chris Nelson, and the other South Dakota Tea Partiers?

The Crow Creek Reservation just shrank by about 11 square miles, courtesy of Uncle Sam. The IRS auctioned off a portion of the reservation last week to recover $3.1 million in back taxes owed by the tribe. I should have brought my bidding ticket: at auction last Thursday, the land went for not quite $2.6 million, about $370 per acre. That's well below the $4.6 million appraisal cited by the tribe's appraiser, and well below SDSU's 2009 estimate that central South Dakota rangeland is worth $898 an acre. (Dang—the IRS should have hired Wieman Auction to market the sale.)

Judge Roberto Lange declined to block the auction, but he is letting the tribe proceed with a lawsuit to challenge the sale. Lange will hear that trial March 29. The tribe is mustering numerous arguments:
  • only an act of Congress can take tribal land
  • the Bureau of Indian Affairs gave them bad tax advice (who hasn't been there?)
  • the land is culturally significant (tribal members are buried there)
  • the land is a vital tribal resource for developing wind power
  • the IRS failed to study the environmental impact of the sale
That last point may not warm the cockles of the Glenn Beck club's hearts, but on the general point of the IRS taking people's land away, shouldn't the anti-government crowd be joining the Crow Creek Sioux in this fight to restore their sovereignty? I would think this would be a perfect opportunity for the folks in tricornered Whigs to build a functioning political coalition. Challenge the IRS, fight for South Dakotans' sovereignty, and win the allegiance of a key political demographic.


  1. Cory,

    The Crow Creek Tribe sadly, probably, does not have a legal leg to stand on. The article pointed out that when they repurchased the land the tribe did not put it back in trust to protect it from seizure.

    Think it is sad but....

    Joseph g Thompson

  2. Unfortunately, Joseph, I'm inclined to agree. The legal case didn't look very strong. Individual tribe members sold the land to non-whites before. As you note, the decision of the tribe not to put the land in trust after buying it back doesn't bode well for court, either.

    But I would think the tea party and 9-12 groups would be logical allies in a case against the IRS. Anyone hear anything from those quarters?


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