ATF at Ho-Chunk headquarters in Winnebago
Update 1/31/18: The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska Chairman Frank White released the following statement
The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska considers the recent activities of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a direct assault on tribal sovereignty.
On Tuesday, Jan. 30, ATF agents raided four Ho-Chunk, Inc. sites in Winnebago and seized records related to tobacco sales. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is an award winning economic development corporation owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe. The majority of seized information is subject to an ongoing federal court case in the D.C. Court of Appeals filed by the Tribe.
As a sovereign nation, the Winnebago Tribe implements and enforces its own tax codes, including taxes from tobacco sales. Every cent of the tax collected is utilized to directly improve and enrich the lives of the Winnebago community and its members. The greatest impact includes our Little Priest Tribal College, Community Development Fund, Tribal Health Department, Language Revitalization Department, and Tribal Roads. Additionally, in recent years the taxes helped 40 families purchase new homes through down payment assistance funds.
Additionally the tribe has attempted to negotiate a tobacco tax compact with the state of Nebraska. However, last year, Nebraska canceled our tobacco tax compact negotiations. “We believe the ATF was influenced by the State of Nebraska to investigate Ho-Chunk, Inc. and its subsidiary, Rock River Manufacturing, to help the state gain advantage in an ongoing tax dispute. This is unfortunate because the federal agents’ actions place many of our tribal members’ jobs at risk,” said Frank White, Chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. “The Winnebago Tribe looks forward to settling this dispute and will continue to fight to protect its sovereign status.”
UPDATE: Ho Chunk, Inc has released a statement today regarding the ATF raids at several locations in Winnebago.
"The law enforcement activities at Ho-Chunk, Inc. on Tuesday are the latest round in a 20-year state-tribal tobacco dispute. We are fully cooperating with authorities. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is confident that in the end, tribal sovereignty will prevail.
This is an ongoing investigation, so our ability to comment is limited. Retail operations, including Pony Express, are open for regular business. We are working to provide updates as possible."
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is currently at the Ho Chunk, Inc. headquarters building in Winnebago, Nebraska this morning.
The bureau is also stationed at HCI Distribution and Rock River Manufacturing in Winnebago.
The presence is believed to be related to tobacco.
The company posted to Facebook earlier in the day and sent out a press release.
Both said the following:
There is a Siouxland News crew in Winnebago right now.
Stay tuned to Siouxland News for the latest, as it develops.