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Shinnecock Medicine Man Files Lawsuit Against IRS

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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has issued a $329,000 tax lien against a Shinnecock medicine man, reported the Daily News. Jonathan Smith is protesting with a federal lawsuit that accuses the IRS of impeding his ability to run a sweat lodge and other spiritual ceremonies on his Eastern Long Island reservation.

Smith claims the lien on his property "substantially burdens his exercise of religion," and cites the Fort Albany Treaty of 1664, the United States Constitution and the Indian Religious Freedom Act.

The lawsuit explains that Smith self-funds his spiritual practices, listing materials required for sweat lodge and pow wow ceremonies, including medicines that are "not easily obtainable in the wild," reported the Daily News.

The tax lien pertains to Smith's income for the years 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005. Thus far, the IRS has siezed $4,688.10 from Smith's several bank accounts.

Back in 2008, a Long Island federal judge dismissed another lawsuit Smith filed that claimed his earnings on the reservation are tax-exempt. Federal lawyers argued those rights applied to the Shinnecock Indian Nation, but not its individual members.