Tensions are mounting on a small indian reservation in northern New York over whether the tribe should be paying property taxes. The tax dispute raises the spector of past clashes between the Ganienkeh Mohawks and state and local authorities.
The Ganienkeh Mohawks have a small community in Altona, New York. Clinton County officials say the tribe is long overdue on taxes, so they have scheduled a tax sale, planning to auction off 11 parcels on November 30th.
Tensions between the tribe and the government have flared before. In March of 1990 -- gunshots fired from the reservation brought down a Vermont National Guard medical helicopter that was flying over indian land. A doctor on board was wounded. When police tried to investigate, the Mohawks armed themselves and put up barricades on roads entering the reservation. The standoff lasted 11 days.
In its public notice about the November 30th auction, the county includes a full account of the 1990 incident and warns, "Bidders should be aware of the historical events that have occurred surrounding the Ganienkeh people."
There are no indications this incident will escalate to a scene like 1990. But Ganienkeh leaders maintain the property is sovereign territory and not subject to county taxes. Tribal leaders say they won't recognize a sale the tax sale.