The Pueblo Of Pojoaque tribe is continuing its court actions against the state of New Mexico after refusing to sign a new Class III gaming compact that would have seen their revenue sharing rate increase from 8% to 10.5%.
Although last year saw nearly every one of the western state’s other tribes agree to the new deal from Governor Susana Martinez covering slots and banked card games like blackjack, the small tribe is holding out and saw its existing compact expire at the end of June. Although illegal under federal law, the US Attorney General and the National Indian Gaming Commission have so far declined to prosecute the tribe and even tried to assist in finding a solution until being stopped courtesy of a lawsuit initiated by New Mexico.
For its part, the 500-member tribe has so far maintained the status quo while their latest actions, including one awaiting a decision from the 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals, are played out in federal court.
“I don’t care what anybody says about revenue sharing. It’s an illegal tax,” Joseph Talachy from the tribe told The Santa Fe Reporter newspaper. “Why do we fight? Because my stores of maize are being depleted already and now if I give that up that means the well-being of my people ultimately gets negatively impacted.”
The Pueblo Of Pojoaque operates the Buffalo Thunder Resort And Casino and the Cities Of Gold Casino with Talachy revealing that the tribe is still recovering from the effects of the economic recession of 2008. Under the previous compact, the group paid the state $5 million to $6 million a year while the new deal would increase this by around $1 million.
“At 10%, we will have to fire employees,” said Talachy. “Social programs would have to be cut and our capital improvement money would take a hit.”
But, New Mexico is not relenting with the Indian Country Today Media Network relating that Talachy felt that many of his vendors had been put “on notice” by the state that they could suffer “consequences” if they continue to deal with the tribe.
“Attack our vendors; attack our employees; hell, you can put me in jail but I’m not going to give in to your bullying,” said Talachy.
Update 5-13 p.m. This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the Pojoaque Pueblo is a Tribe rather than a “band”. The tribal membership number has also been changed from 1,200 to 500 to more accurately reflect that fact. The 2000 Census counted 430 members, which number could always be in flux.