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Manitoba moves in on illegal First Nation smoke shop

PIPESTONE, Man. – The Manitoba government has moved in on a First Nations smoke shop that has been defying provincial laws on tobacco sales.

The Finance Department says almost 90,000 contraband cigarettes have been seized from the Dakota Chundee Smoke Shop near Pipestone.

It says the cigarettes are federally stamped but are not marked or stamped for sale in Manitoba.

The investigation continues and charges are pending.

The shop has been selling tobacco products supplied by Mohawk distributors in Quebec for about $40 a carton – well below the usual $98 price tag.

The Dakota First Nations had said they wanted the province to prosecute them so they could bring attention to their legal efforts to obtain a treaty.

Dakota chiefs believe their status in Canada is recognized by a British treaty to protect Canadian borders from American incursions during the War of 1812.

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The federal government has rejected that claim in court and says the Dakota don’t have the same treaty rights as other First Nations in Canada.

Aboriginal spokesmen have said running the store exercises their sovereignty rights. They also plan to develop a VLT gaming centre.