Crow Creek auction stirs memory of withholding-scheme allegation

All the coverage lately of the IRS seizure and sale of about 7,100 acres of Crow Creek Sioux tribal land stirred some memories of a story I wrote four years ago.

The story began with a phone call from Wallace "Wally" Wells, a former chairman of the tribe. He claimed that the IRS had seized some tribal funds to pay off part of a tax debt that the tribe owed. He said the debt was $3 million.

Furthermore, he said the debt was partially linked to a tax withholding scheme that tribal officials had been running for years. The tribe had been withholding federal taxes from employees’ paychecks, Wells said, but hadn’t been sending the money to the federal government. Numerous federal authorities declined to comment on Wells’ allegations.

That story hadn’t crossed my mind very much since I wrote it. It jumped back into my thoughts earlier this month, when The Associated Press reported on the land auction.

The AP said the auction was conducted to pay off a tribal tax debt of $3 million — the same number that Wells told me four years ago. Neither the AP coverage nor any of the subsequent coverage that I’ve seen has mentioned anything about a withholding scheme. Mostly, the stories have recited a claim by tribal officials that they mistakenly believed they did not have to pay employment taxes. The AP said the tribe claimed it was given that advice by "an official connected to the BIA."

I’ve tried in recent days to do some more checking on the validity of Wells’ claim about the withholding scheme, but nobody’s talking, and Wells died a year ago this month.

5 thoughts on “Crow Creek auction stirs memory of withholding-scheme allegation

  1. Please stop publishing Tim Giagos column. I tire of his continued whining about the poor native american. Compare to other conquered nations like Mexico, South America, Africa, Australia and on and on. The american indian was probably screwed as were the peasants in Europe, Russia, and anywhere else man has existed. If Tim truly wants to help indian country, take the Bill Cosby approach and start holding the indian individual accountable for doing something about his own life, his own family and improve his own life with no expectations from government. Sad that our country is looking to take the native path and look to government to solve their problems. We should learn from the native situation and see where Obama wants to take the rest of the country.

  2. I was just to the res with a pick-up load of clothing for the Indians- man the place doesn’t change that much. I picked up the local Indian newspaper there- suicides and alcoholism- what a tough place to live in. I simply ask who tells their story? who is their advocate? Poverty is not nice and even as a young fellow I could never understand how we as South Dakotans could allow this to happen in our state? You bet us whities got alot to be thankful for- nice housing, clean clothes, good foof, good jobs, mostly a crime free enviornment to live and play in? Have you counted your blessings lately. I will be helping again next year to get some clothes or something to the res- you can join in with us.

  3. You should be ashamed of yourself. You think the Indians are the only people taking advantage of the government? Look in your own backyard.

  4. before you go pointing fingers? remember can you own your own racism- yep white racism? What have you done lately to help another human being- expound negative political rhetoric- I am sick of do nothing complainers like you- you make me sick- try doing something postive this season instad of complaining

  5. Are you saying the dependent life the Native Americans ‘enjoy’ would be better if they received more? My heros growing up where Cheif Joseph and Sitting Bull. The true native spirit is one of freedom and independence. The least of what has been taken from them is land. The most important is their sense of pride and self worth. Go to the reservation, people need a purpose. Tim Giago just perpetuates the misery on the reservations. I dislike all people that feel they are entitled to a free ride. I feel that every day I get up and go to work, pay my taxes and raise good kids, that the government is taking advantage of us. It matters not what color I am or ethnic group I belong to, I am responsible to take care of myself and my family. I was privy to a group called the Abbot House which tried to help the young girls on the reservation that were being sexually exploited only to have $250,000 stolen from them. Don’t think because I am critical I don’t care. It is safe to say what we are now doing and what TG is always whinning about is not working. Poverty is rampant all over the world but the resevations are more poor because of the current culture, not poverty.

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