Supreme Court brings good news to Cayuga Nation in land dispute

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. File Photo © Indianz.Com

The U.S. Supreme Court won't be hearing a foreclosure dispute involving the Cayuga Nation of New York.

In July, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Seneca County could not sue the tribe for failing to pay taxes on properties that are not currently in trust. The ruling relied on the Supreme Court's decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, a sovereign immunity case.

The county planned to appeal but the law firm that was handling the case failed to file a petition on time. So the county asked the Supreme Court for permission to pursue the case.

The justices, however, denied the county's motion in an order today. No reason was given but late requests are almost always denied.

The tribe is pursuing the land-into-trust process for its properties so the tax issue will go away if the application is approved. In the meantime, the county won't be able to initiate foreclosure proceedings against the tribe.

The development marks the second time that New York tribes have managed to avoid putting the foreclosure issue before the Supreme Court, whose record in Indian law case is abysmal. The Oneida Nation almost went before the justices but reached a settlement that resulted in the dismissal of the petition in March.

"Some of the justices are openly hostile to us," John EchoHawk, the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, said at the National Congress of American Indians annual convention in October.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the 2nd Circuit case, Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County.

2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County (July 31, 2014)

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