News Stories Jun. 26, 2018

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether Yakama tribal members are exempt from Washington state gas taxes on the reservation. The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the U.S. Solicitor General recommended last month for the country’s highest court to take up the case, which stems from a state Department of Licensing lawsuit in 2013 against a gas station and convenience store in White Swan. The state claimed the store owned by tribal member Kip Ramsey brought out-of-state fuel onto the reservation without paying the state’s fuel tax. Yakima County Superior Court and the state Supreme Court ruled the Yakama Treaty of 1855 exempted tribal-owned gas stations on the reservation from the tax. The licensing department appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Federal officials anticipate a big wildfire season in the Northwest throughout July, August and possibly into September. The latest forecasts show droughts throughout much of Oregon and Southeast Washington and the potential conditions for large fires if the region sees a week or longer stretch of hot and dry weather, according to the latest drought and climate outlook. Current statistics show 53 large fires burning in 10 states, most of which are in Alaska.

( Tribal leaders in Washington state are stepping up to fill a political void they say has been left by complacent politicians who have failed to hold corporations accountable for climate change. Joining forces with other leaders of color, the tribes have formed a political action committee called the First American Project. Their goal is to pass I-1631, a ballot initiative that would force corporations to pay fees for the pollution they produce. Quinalt President Fawn Sharp joins  leaders from several tribes in the effort, Ramona Bennett, former chairwoman of the Puyallup Tribe; Frances Charles, chairwoman of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; Thomas Wooten, chairman of the Samish Nation; Willie Frank III, councilman for the Nisqually Tribe; John Daniels Jr., councilman for the Muckleshoot Tribe; and Theresa Sheldon, former councilwoman for the Tulalip Tribes. The First American Project also includes Estela Ortega, the executive director of El Centro de la Raza. Tribal leaders say the group is built on the legacy and values of the Pacific Northwest civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, which brought communities of color together to advocate collectively for political equality and progressive policies.