TULSA, Okla. – The Osage Nation officially filed April 2 to seek rehearing by U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals following the court’s decision last month to rule in favor of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
The Osage Nation contends it has a federally recognized reservation which makes its tribal members living and working within the boundaries of the reservation, under federal law, exempt from paying state income taxes. The Oklahoma Tax Commission says the reservation was disestablished, but failed to identify clear language in any act of Congress which supports that claim.
“The Tenth Circuit panel improperly inferred Congressional intent to disestablish and terminate the boundaries of the Osage Indian Reservation despite any statutory language indicating that,” Osage Nation Chief Jim Gray said. “This is unprecedented since neither the Supreme Court nor the Tenth Circuit has ever found diminishment of an Indian reservation without affirmative language of that intent within the body of the statute.”
According to Osage Nation legal counsel, the US Supreme Court has consistently held that statutory language is the best evidence of Congressional intent, and until now, the federal courts have always ruled accordingly.
“In this case, the Tenth Circuit radically departs from Supreme Court and its own precedent by finding reservation disestablishment despite the absence of any statutory support,” Gray said.
The Osage Nation has taken the position that rehearing is required based on the recklessness of this decision and its potential impact on reservation tribes around the country.
“It’s very important for the court to seriously consider this opportunity to correct serious errors of law in its decision,” Gray said. “This gives the court another chance to get it right.”