The Northwest Territories is trying to tax Native people in the province but the Dene are fighting back.

Dene National Chief Bill Erasmus and the government exchanged fire for several days over a 1-per-cent payroll tax, which all territory residents are now required to pay. The NWT council approved the tax in 1993.

The Dene say they shouldn’t be taxed since Ottawa guaranteed them tax-free status in treaties in 1899 and 1921. “By virtue of this, we’ve chosen not to comply,” said Chief Erasmus in a Globe and Mail story.

“We held a meeting of the Dene National Assembly and our people instructed us not to.”

The tax would affect as many as 6,000 Dene.