A Yakama Nation fuel distributor cannot be assessed state fuel taxes on wholesale fuel he brings onto the reservation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. Justices of the nation’s highest court found the 1855 Yakama Treaty to protect tribal members from state fuel taxes, even when bringing out-of-state fuel onto the reservation for retail purposes. The 5-4 ruling confirms rulings in lower courts that the treaty provides Yakamas a right to freely travel all highways and bring goods to market. The conflict arose in 2013, when the state Department of Licensing claimed the Cougar Den — a Yakama fuel distributor and convenience store in White Swan — owed $3.6 million in unpaid state fuel taxes. The Cougar Den is owned and operated by Kip Ramsey, a Yakama, and located deep within the reservation. As a sovereign government, the Yakama Nation and its members are exempt from state cigarette, fuel and sales taxes on the 1.3-million acre reservation. At issue was whether Ramsey should have paid the state fuel tax when he brought wholesale fuel into the state from Oregon.
Charles “Jody” Calica, Vice-Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council passed away Monday at his home and surrounded by family. He was a Madras High School graduate and a veteran of the US Navy. He attended college at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. He worked with Jefferson County School District in 1973 and was later recruited by The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in 1976 as the Education Director. Throughout his thirty-seven year career, he served in a number of middle to senior executive positions that included the Municipal Manager, Natural Resources General Manager, and Chief Operations Officer. He also served three consecutive three-year term appointments as the Secretary-Treasurer/Chief Executive Officer for the 23rd, 24th and 25th Tribal Council terms. Mr. Calica’s only break in direct tribal service would be during his employment as Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent of the Northern Idaho Agency working with the people and issues of Nez Perce, Coeur D’ Alene and Kootenai Reservations from 2002 to 2004. He served a number of commissions and boards serving tribes and the state of Oregon. Funeral services for Mr. Calica will begin on Thursday. A dressing will be held at 2pm at Simnasho Longhouse, followed by overnight services. He will be buried Friday morning at Agency Cemetery – leaving Simnasho at 9am.
The Jefferson County School District 509-J Board of Directors will have two positions on the ballot in the May 21st Special Election. Positions number four and five will be voted on by Jefferson County voters. Position number four is currently held by Courtney Snead, who will seek re-election, according to the District office. Position number five is currently held by Stan Sullivan. This Thursday at 5:00 is the deadline for individuals to file a declaration of candidacy or petition for nomination for office with the Elections Department of Jefferson County. The forms are available at the Jefferson County Clerk’s office in Madras and on the Jefferson County website www.co.jefferson.or.us. The school board positions are four-year terms that will start July first. According to Jefferson County Clerk Kate Zemke, as of Tuesday afternoon, two individuals had filed for position number four, and no one had filed for position number five.