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Seneca leaders meet with Spitzer 5-10-07

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Seneca Indian Nation President Maurice John led
more than 50 tribal members on a march from the United Nations to
Gov. Eliot Spitzer's New York City offices Thursday for a
face-to-face meeting between the two elected leaders.

It was the first time John and Spitzer have met amid tension over the
state's plan to collect sales tax on reservation sales of cigarettes
and gasoline to non-Indian customers, an issue that has led to
violence in the past.

The meeting was described as introductory and produced no agreement
on the taxation issue.

“He agreed to listen to us, we listened to him, we shook hands. We
leave as friends,” John said. “We were welcomed with diplomacy. We
respect him very much.”

The Senecas maintain that federal treaties dating to the 1700s shield
them from the state's tax laws. Avoiding state sales tax allows the
tribe to sell large quantities of goods at reduced prices.

“There are differences we have with the Seneca Nation. We have
differences with a number of the Indian Nations,” Richard Rifkind,
special counsel to the governor, told NY1 news. “We believe that
these should be resolved through discussions, negotiations, and as
long as there is good faith on both sides, we believe they can be
resolved.”

Tribal councilor J.C. Seneca said the meeting accomplished its goal
of opening communication between the state and tribe, which has 8,000
members, most living on two western New York reservations.

Both sides have said they want to avoid the violent clashes that shut
down part of the Thruway when the issue was raised in 1997.
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