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Update: Montana Chief Reinstated, Nation Seeks Seized Smokes

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The misunderstanding between Montana Cree Chief Carolyn Buffalo and her constituents has been ironed out, and she is once again leading the charge to retrieve the 75,000 cartons of cigarettes that Alberta authorities seized from the band’s reserve.

TV network APTN reported that the 14 million cigarettes seized by Alberta authorities on the Montana First Nation were going to be sold on reserves only, throughout Alberta and British Columbia.

They were made by a federally licensed manufacturer, Rainbow Tobacco, which is based on a Mohawk reserve in Kahnawake, Quebec, the station reported. Rainbow was finalizing a deal and distribution network with various First Nations communities that were going to sell the cigarettes made by the federally licensed manufacturer. Buffalo at first was suspended for storing the cigarettes on the reserve without mentioning it to her colleagues, but she was quickly reinstated.

As for the cigarettes themselves, “The matter is sure to end up in the courts with a final outcome likely to have a major impact on the future of the much maligned First Nations tobacco industry and possibly even on provincial jurisdiction when it comes to economic transactions between bands from different parts of the country,” APTN said.

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No charges have been filed since the smokes were seized on Jan. 5 by the RCMP and the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, though they continue to investigate, the network said.

Rainbow Tobacco chief financial officer Chad Rice called the seizure “unconstitutional” and told APTN the company is prepared to go to court to get back its merchandise if necessary.