Law Article: Supreme Court signals end for tribal land claims

"Since the early 1970s, the Oneida tribes of Wisconsin, Ontario and New York, together with the Stockbridge Munsee Tribe, have pursued land claims seeking relief for the loss of approximately 250,000 acres of land conveyed to New York in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in violation of the Indian Nonintercourse Acts (INA) (currently codified at 25 U.S.C. § 177). The Supreme Court had issued two preliminary rulings, in 1974 and 1985, upholding the Oneidas' right to pursue land claims in federal court. In 2005, however, the Court ruled that the tribe could not assert jurisdiction over lands acquired in the 1990s and avoid state property taxes, holding that "a contrary conclusion would seriously disrupt the justifiable expectations of the people living in the area." City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, 544 U.S. 197 (2005).

While the City of Sherrill decision did not directly affect the tribes' principal land claims, the New York federal courts subsequently applied its underlying principles to those claims. In 2010, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that "standards of federal Indian law and federal equity practice" barred the Oneidas from seeking damages for conveyances of Oneida land in violation of the federal Nonintercourse Act in the late 18th and early 19th centuries because to recognize those claims would be "disruptive." (See September 2010 Update.) On October 17, 2011, the Supreme Court denied the petition of the Oneida Nation of New York for review of the Second Circuit's decision Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation, 617 F.3D 114 (2nd Cir. 2010). 2011 WL 1933740, 79 USLW 3674 (2011)."

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Brian L. Pierson: Courts signal the end of Eastern Land Claims (Lexology 11/15)
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