Editorial: Fight Oneida land-into-trust decision
"The U.S. Department of the Interior’s land-into-trust ruling cannot stand.

As written, it promises an endless tangle of disputes and lawsuits. It creates a new map of Oneida and Madison counties that’s simply unworkable. And numerous issues of fairness and oversight remain unresolved.

New York state and the two counties must go to court within 30 days to stop the plan from becoming a reality. That said, the state and the counties also have to get a lot more serious about envisioning what a workable future really looks like for themselves and for the Oneida Indian Nation. Without such a vision, long-term progress toward a peaceful co-existence won’t be possible.

The land-into-trust decision should be challenged on at least these points:

LAND PATCHWORK: The federal government is putting into trust some 13,000 acres scattered across two counties and numerous towns. Many of the parcels aren’t connected, making the Oneida territory appear to be scattered ink blots on the map.

TAXES: The Interior Department failed utterly to address the issue of back taxes owed in the years since Turning Stone Resort and Casino opened and before the land is going into trust. In essence, it says this is a matter for the courts, then snidely points out that the counties, towns and school districts shouldn’t miss tax money it hasn’t been receiving the past 15 years.

REGULATION: Putting land into trust puts Nation actions beyond the reach of state and local governments. That means issues such as protecting wetlands would rest on the shoulders of the Nation itself and of federal agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Yet the Nation has already built on wetlands for projects such as its Atunyote Golf Course, and it’s clear the federal government took little interest."

Get the Story:
Challenge trust ruling, plan future (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 5/25)

Another Story:
New trust decision raises old concerns (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 5/25)

Relevant Documents:
Record of Decision | Final EIS (March 2008) | Draft EIS (November 2006)

From the Indianz.Com Archive:
BIA official calls high court ruling 'quite depressing' (March 31, 2005)
Major defeat for Oneida Nation in Supreme Court case (March 30, 2005)

Relevant Links:

Indian Nation Fee-to-Trust Land Acquisition Applications in New York State - http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/888.html
Oneida Indian Nation's Land Into Trust Application, Madison County - http://www.madisoncounty.org/motf/OINTrustMain.html

Sherrill v. Oneida Nation Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Souter] | Dissent [Stevens]

Related Stories:
New York governor criticizes Oneida decision (5/23)
Lawsuits awaited over Oneida land-into-trust (5/22)
Editorial: Regulate Oneida Nation trust lands (5/16)
Editorial: Clarity on Oneida Nation land-into-trust (5/8)
Interior delays decision on Oneida land-into-trust (5/7)
Sen. Schumer seeks delay on Oneida land-into-trust (5/6)
Editorial: Questions on Oneida Nation land-into-trust (5/1)
Decision on Oneida land-into-trust due this week (4/28)
Wisconsin tribe objects to Oneida land-into-trust (4/25)
Rep. Acuri: Explaining Oneida land-into-trust rider (4/10)
Rep. Arcuri tried to block Oneida land-into-trust (4/9)
Cason 'elusive' on Oneida Nation decision (4/4)
BIA still reviewing Oneida Nation land-into-trust (3/31)
Oneida Nation, county meet for first time in years (3/28)
Oneida Nation asks BIA for all 17,000 acres in trust (3/25)
County discusses Oneida Nation land-into-trust (03/07)
Cason to follow through on Oneida land-into-trust (2/25)
BIA to rule on Oneida trust lands request (2/22)
Cason to brief counties on Oneida land-into-trust (2/22)