Cayuga Nation wins decision on foreclosure of non-trust land

A county in New York can't start foreclosure proceedings against the Cayuga Nation, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

The tribe has acquired some property within its original reservation. However, the land isn't currently in trust so Seneca County started foreclosure proceedings against the tribe for failing to pay property taxes.

In a 15-page decision, Judge Charles J. Siragusa blocked the effort. He said the tribe hasn't waived its sovereign immunity.

"Even assuming that Seneca County has the right to impose property taxes on the subject parcels owned by the Cayuga Indian Nation, it does not have the right to collect those taxes by suing to foreclose on the properties, unless Congress authorizes it to do so, or unless the Cayuga Indian Nation waives its sovereign immunity from suit," Siragusa wrote. "Congress has not authorized Seneca County to sue the Cayugas, and the Cayugas have not waived their sovereign immunity."

The decision falls in line with prior rulings within the 2nd Circuit regarding sovereign immunity and foreclosure. The U.S. Supreme Court was due to consider the issue in a case involving the Oneida Nation but canceled oral arguments after the tribe waived its immunity.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County.

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