Tribal Members Protest New Taxes on Gas, Cigarettes
TOPPENISH, Wash. - The fight against state tax on tribal gas and cigarettes is growing more intense. Hundreds of Yakama tribal members held a protest outside council headquarters in Toppenish.
Tribal members say they're upset about recent changes to state fuel and cigarette taxes on the Yakama reservation. Tribal Council Chairwoman, Lavina Washines, blames two tribal officials. She says they acted without approval, and signed a settlement with the state that changed the fuel tax agreement.
Now tribal gas stations have to pay tax on some wholesale fuel. smoke shop owners have to pay more for cartons of cigarettes. Washines says it's her responsibility as a tribal leader to listen to the people and fight these taxes.
"In my heart, I pray that the council will listen to the people and realize that we are all aware of their actions. We need to listen, whether it's for the people or against the people, and this one is against the people."
A statement released by the tribe's Department of Commerce says they're not responsible for the taxes. It goes on to say the current Yakama Nation tobacco agreement between the tribe and the state was signed into law by former Council Chairman Jerry Meninick.