Appeals court dismisses Stockbridge-Munsee Band's land claim

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has dismissed yet another tribal land claim.

In a unanimous decision, the court said tribes can't sue to recover land they lost "early in America’s history." That means the Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Wisconsin is out of luck with its claim in New York.

"[I]t is now well‐established that Indian land claims asserted generations after an alleged dispossession are inherently disruptive of state and local governance and the settled expectations of current landowners, and are subject to dismissal on the basis of laches, acquiescence, and impossibility," the decision stated.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Community joins the Oneida Nation, the Cayuga Nation and Onondaga Nation in seeing their claims dismissed. The 2nd Circuit has been hostile to tribes ever since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Sherrill v. Oneida Nation in March 2005.

That case was not a land claim. But 2nd Circuit said it "dramatically altered the legal landscape" by preventing tribes from asserting sovereignty over their ancestral lands because doing so would be "disruptive" to non-Indians and local governments.

2nd Circuit Decision:
Stockbridge‐Munsee Community v. New York (June 20, 2014)

Related Stories:
Stockbridge-Munsee Community can't sue for New York lands (7/25)

Join the Conversation