New York counties celebrate ruling in Oneida Nation land claim
Two counties in New York celebrated a ruling from the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that essentially killed the Oneida Nation land claim.

"This is a great day for the citizens of Madison County -- as well as the State of New York as a whole,” Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker said in a statement, The Utica Observer-Dispatch reported.

"It satisfies a long standing argument," Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente told WKTV. "It takes away the Oneida argument that they have a right to that land."

The 2nd Circuit, by a 2-1 vote, said the tribe waited too long to file its claim to a 250,000-acre reservation that was set aside by the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. The court said the counties successfully raised a laches defense to the tribe's inaction.

The ruling was based in part on a 2005 case from the U.S. Supreme Court. In Sherrill v. Oneida Nation, the court said the tribe can't assert sovereignty over reacquired land in Madison and Oneida counties without going through the land-into-trust process.

In a statement, the tribe said it would continue that process for the 17,000 acres it has reacquired in the two counties. "The Nation continues to pursue federal trust to protect these lands, as indicated by the Supreme Court in the Sherrill case, and this decision does not affect the trust land process," the tribe said.

The ruling also was based on a 2nd Circuit decision in another tribal land claim. Just a few months after Sherrill, the court in Cayuga Nation v. Pataki ruled that the Cayuga Nation waited too long to file its lawsuit.

Both decisions cited the "disruptive nature" of tribal land claims and the 2nd Circuit yesterday applied that framework to the Oneida Nation, which sought money damages and other remedies for its stolen lands.

Get the Story:
Appeals court dismisses land claim (The Oneida Dispatch 8/10)
Appeals court dismisses Oneida Indians' 40-year-old land claim (The Syracuse Post-Standard 8/10)
Court: No need for state to compensate Oneidas on land (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 8/10)
Federal Court decision dismisses Oneida land claim (WSYR-TV 8/9)
Court rules State, County not obligated to compensate Oneida Nation (WKTV 8/9)

2nd Circuit Decision:
Oneida Nation v. Oneida County/Madison County (August 9, 2010)

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

Cayuga Land Claim Decision:
Cayuga Nation v. New York (June 28, 2005)

Related Stories:
2nd Circuit rules against Oneida Nation in long running land case (8/9