Oneida Nation foes tie Osage case to land-into-trust feud
Foes of the Oneida Nationof New York believe a recent case involving the Osage Nation of Oklahoma will help them in their land-into-trust litigation.

Officials in Madison County, New York, are trying to prevent the Oneida Nation from acquiring about 13,000 acres in trust. One of their claims is that Oneida Reservation never existed, but if did, they say it was disestablished by treaty.

As part of the litigation, the county is asking the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals to take notice of a ruling March 5 ruling from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals that said Congress disestablished the Osage Reservation in Oklahoma. The 2nd Circuit has previously held that the boundaries of the Oneida Reservation still exist.

“Since the Supreme Court’s 2005 ruling in the City of Sherrill case, there are six separate federal court decisions holding that the Oneida reservation was not disestablished," Oneida Nation spokesperson Mark Emery told The Oneida Dispatch. "The Oklahoma case involved an act of Congress disestablishing that tribe’s reservation; there is no such act of Congress regarding the Oneida reservation.”

In the Osage case, the 10th Circuit decision noted that "Congress has the power to diminish or disestablish a reservation unilaterally, although this will not be lightly inferred. Congress’s intent to terminate must be clearly expressed and there is a presumption in favor of the continued existence of a reservation."

In a similar case, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2005 upheld the status of a reservation for the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan. The court said Congress had not shown a "clear" intent to change the Indian character of the land even though a treaty had allowed parts of the reservation to be allotted.

Get the Story:
Madison County to argue Oneida Indian Nation’s reservation status (The Oneida Dispatch 3/23)

10th Circuit Decision:
Osage Nation v. Oklahoma (March 5, 2010)

6th Circuit Decision:
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community v. Michigan (June 26, 2005)

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