Jicarilla Apache Nation of New Mexico
The nation lost a protest of tax increases on its Lodge at Chama, a 36,000-acre luxury hunting and fishing resort, but President Claudia Vigil-Muniz says that's not the last word. She said the nation will appeal the Rio Arriba County tax board's decision to district court in hope of overturning the assessment which has increased from $2.1 million to $21.3 million in the last year, based on what the nation paid for property - $25.5 million - in 1995. That would increase annual taxes from $15,000 to at least $110,000. The assessors decided the lodge was more oriented toward recreation than agriculture, demonstrated by the ranch Web site advertising $13,000 elk sites. The county Valuations Protest Board, in a decision signed Feb. 12, concluded elk are not livestock for taxation. The nation disagrees. "The board did not understand the factual and legal issues raised by the protest," the president said. The tribe has been trying to add the ranch to its trust land, removing it from county tax rolls. The nation suffered a setback in that effort when the Interior Board of Appeals in Arlington, Va., ruled Feb. 6 that the BIA must reconsider its decision to add the ranch to the reservation.