A federal judge essentially said “nice try” to the Osage Nation in rejecting the tribe’s claim that its members who live in Osage County should be exempt from state income taxes.
The tribe filed suit in Tulsa in 2001, saying all of Osage County should be considered Indian Country because Congress never formally did away with the Osage Reservation. In his ruling last week, U.S. District Judge James Payne said the tribe was offering “an unprecedented challenge” that “disregards established law.”
Payne said Congress and the courts have held for more than a century that there are no reservations in Oklahoma. And, he noted that according to 2000 Census figures, only 20.7 percent of Osage County residents were American Indian and just 5.4 percent identified themselves as Osage.
Exempting Osage tribal members “would have significant practical consequences not only for income taxation but potentiall for civil, criminal and regulatory jurisdiction in Osage County,” Payne wrote.
Here’s hoping the ruling will cause Chief Jim Gray, who pursued the case from the outset, to drop this fight and spend his time in a more productive way.