Law | National | Trust

BIA to place 13K acres in trust for Oneida Nation in New York

It's only taken nine years but the Bureau of Indian Affairs is finally placing land in trust for the Oneida Nation of New York.

The tribe filed its land-into-trust application in 2005 following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Sherrill v. Oneida Nation. The ruling held that the tribe's fee properties weren't considered Indian Country.

After a lengthy review process, the BIA published a record of decision in May 2008 to place about 13,000 acres in trust. But that spawned a new round of litigation from the state of New York, local governments and other parties.

Intense negotiations, however, led to a major settlement in which the state and local governments agreed to drop their challenges. The agreement was approved in federal court in March.

The settlement doesn't resolve a separate lawsuit that was filed by non-governmental parties. But the BIA said it was going to place the land in trust no later than June 30.

"Placing the subject lands in trust will not have any effect on the proceedings before this court," Department of Justice attorney Steven Miskinis said in a May 30 letter to Judge Lawrence E. Kahn.

Miskinis noted that the Supreme Court decision in Salazar v. Patchak allows anyone to challenge a land-into-trust acquisition in court even after it has been finalized. That effectively means there is no reason to wait to finalize the tribe's application.

Get the Story:
CERA members air frustrations over land-into-trust issues, settlement agreement (The Oneida Daily Dispatch 6/3)
Oneida Nation land going into trust; move surprises local officials (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 5/31)

Relevant Documents:
DOJ Letter to Federal Judge (May 30, 2014)

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