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American Indian land sold off by IRS to pay off taxes
US tax officials have sold off thousands of acres of an impoverished Indian reservation in what the tribe claims is a "shameful" and unprecedented breach of laws protecting Native Americans.
The 7,112 acres - or 11 square miles - of Crow Creek Sioux ancestral land in central South Dakota was auctioned off on Thursday by the US Internal Revenue Service to help pay off more than $3.1 million (£1.9 million) in unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.
The land, part of the tribe's original reservation established in an 1868 treaty, was originally held by the federal government in a trust for the tribe.
..."It's very disgraceful, very shameful. It's devastating to us. Our land is never for sale," said Brandon Sazue, the tribal chairman, after the auction.
The lawsuit says BIA gave the tribe “erroneous tax advice” around 2003 when it said the tribe didn’t have to pay federal employment taxes because it’s a federally recognized sovereign nation.
“The tribe has attempted since then to pay the arrearages and subsequent amounts as they come due, but has been unable to bring the employment taxes current because over this same amount of time the Internal Revenue Services have levied and garnished various accounts of the tribe making it impossible for the tribe to bring the taxes current,” according to the lawsuit