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Old 01-29-2003, 09:13 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Buying a house on an Indian reservation?

I'm looking for a house to buy. Today I came across one online that is on an Indian reservation in western Washington.

How does that work? Can tribes sell their land to individuals? That seems like a rather strange concept. Or is a house "for sale" really a long-term lease? (i.e., the proverbial "99-year lease"?) If you buy a house on Indian land, are you bound by tribal law, state and federal law, or all of the above?

(MPSIMS: The house is tiny -- my one-bedroom apartment is not much smaller than this two-bedroom house -- but it's on half an acre. City about six miles away. Good place for launching a kayak. Very inexpensive.)
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Old 01-29-2003, 10:28 PM
Duke Duke is offline
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I'm not sure this will answer your questions, but I know that on the nearby Tuscarora reservation, there are a number of houses owned by non-Natives. AFAIK, you would be bound by the laws of the local community, although there would be some exceptions.

We've been having an interesting counterpart case here in Niagara Falls. The Seneca Nation "bought" a property in the city in perpetuity for the purpose of building a casino. For all intents and purposes, the property is now sovereign Seneca land. The land is now subject to Seneca laws (which explains why they had to buy the land to build a casino--the casino is illegal under New York State law). AFAIK, federal laws are still valid at the casino--for example, for certain taxation purposes. New York state laws, however, are not. At a recent City Council meeting, the point was raised about what would happen if someone committed a misdemeanor (outside of native land) and sought sanctuary in the casino. Neither the Seneca Nation nor the New York state cops seemed to come up with a definitive answer.

If I were you, I'd check with the relevant authorities before making a decision on the house. I should note that, at least in New York state, non-native citizens technically have to pay any taxes they incur while living in or visiting native lands, although the state stopped trying to collect sales taxes on gas and tobacco bought on reservations in 1997, after "violent protests" (words of the Buffalo News) by the Senecas.
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Old 01-30-2003, 01:01 AM
Troy McClure SF Troy McClure SF is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Duke
At a recent City Council meeting, the point was raised about what would happen if someone committed a misdemeanor (outside of native land) and sought sanctuary in the casino. Neither the Seneca Nation nor the New York state cops seemed to come up with a definitive answer.
I would think that it would work similarly to when someone crosses state lines. The casino security could nab him and bring him to the state cops. The casino likely wouldn't want lawbreakers in the casino, so they'd be cooperative.
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Old 01-30-2003, 06:16 AM
Spit Spit is offline
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A word to the wise:

If you find that it was built on an ancient burial ground, do not try and stick it out.
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Old 01-30-2003, 07:00 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Johnny, are you referring to a place on the Lummi reservation?
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Old 01-30-2003, 07:04 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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CBEscapee. Yup. I understand that there's some water issues, but I talked to a realtor (I didn't think to ask the question that is the subject of this thread though) and he said that water might be a problem if I wanted to sink a new well or hook up a water system from scratch. He said that there wouldn't be any problems with a pre-existing house.
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Old 01-30-2003, 07:07 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Sorry to hijack, but that is really a beautiful area so I can see your desire to buy. BTW in the early 70's I worked for a contractor that built 50 homes on the reservation. Had a great time in the area.
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Old 01-30-2003, 07:30 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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I haven't been to the reservation area, but I've been to Bellingham and Birch Bay several times. My friend in Birch Bay says the Lummi reservation is a great place to launch a kayak, and it's a short paddle to Lummi Island. From there it's a short paddle to Clark(?) Island, and then Orcas is a reasonable distance from there.

I was also looking at a house in Nooksack. ([B-52s]Nooksack! It's a Nooksack! Nooksack, baby![/B-52s]) Twice as big, large corner lot, 50% more expensive, "needs TLC". I'd love to live in a place called "Nooksack"! (I wonder if Chuckanut Road goes that far? ) But it's 20 miles from Bellingham, and if I end up commuting to another city it might be unreasonable. (If I live in B'ham, I can commute as far as Everett -- which is barely farther than my current commute.)

The Ferndale (Lummi res.) place is, as I said, very small. Depending on the employment situation I may eventually tear it down and put something else up. But the first priority is a big garage. (Can't let the '46 Willys or '66 MGB rot!) No matter where I buy a house I want to avoid CC&Rs and other problems with the local authorities. Hence the question about buying property on Indian lands.

Another question, since you seem to know the area: Is it safe to eat seafood from Bellingham Bay? I have this idea it might be fun to catch a dungeness crab or a halibut from time to time.
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Old 01-30-2003, 02:13 PM
Duke Duke is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Troy McClure SF
I would think that it would work similarly to when someone crosses state lines. The casino security could nab him and bring him to the state cops. The casino likely wouldn't want lawbreakers in the casino, so they'd be cooperative.
Maybe not, at least according to the Senecas. Remember the old Cecil column here?
Quote:
Although Illinois cops, for instance, can chase you all over the Land of Lincoln, they can't pursue you into adjoining states. They have to radio ahead to alert the cops in the state you're trying to escape into. Later Illinois officials will have to arrange to have you extradited back here for trial.
The same appears to be true with the Seneca Nation/New York state situation. The Niagara Falls city police nor the New York troopers would be allowed to chase the suspect onto sovereign Seneca land, which the casino is part of. That's what the Niagara cops and the Seneca leaders were trying to hammer out, and AFAIK they still haven't decided on a legal solution.
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