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Omaha Reservation Tax Dispute Faces Review

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court agreed Thursday to review a case involving the Village of Pender, Neb., and the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska over a liquor sales tax dispute.

The Omaha Tribe lives on a 307-square mile federally-recognized reservation in Northeastern Nebraska and Western Iowa. Pender is one of five tribal communities on the reservation.

In 2006, the Omaha Tribal Council elected to tax and regulate liquor sales in an effort to boost the economy.

Pender business owners fought against the tax, arguing that they were already being taxed by the state and that it wasn't fair to be taxed again by the tribe.

The Pender business owners filed a lawsuit arguing that Pender is not on tribal lands.

Central to the suit is an Act passed by Congress on Aug. 7, 1882, which permitted that portions of the reservation's land could be sold to non Native Americans. The plaintiffs argue that when they bought the land from the Omaha tribe that the reservation's boundaries were diminished.

Through eight years of appeals, the Omaha Tribal Court, a federal court and the Eighth Circuit all found in favor of the Omaha Tribal Council. Nebraska formally joined Pender in its appeal to the Supreme Court.

Per its custom, the Supreme Court did not issue any comment in taking up the Pender business owners' case.

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