Oneida Indian Nation Trust Status Encounters Setback

Madison County 

(Wampsville, NY – Oct. 2012) U.S. District Court remands land into trust case back to the Department of the Interior for reconsideration and to determine if the Oneida Indian Nation of New York was under federal jurisdiction in 1934 so as to qualify for tax-free land into trust

County officials say that, in a 46-page decision issued last week, Federal District Court Judge Lawrence E. Kahn determined that the Oneida Indian Nation of New York’s ability to place land into a tax-free federal trust depended on whether the OIN was under federal jurisdiction in 1934.

Following the clear direction of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2009 decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, Kahn wrote “[I]n order for DOI to have placed the land into trust for the OIN lawfully, the OIN must have been under federal jurisdiction in 1934.”

According to county officials, the Court went on to hold “that a remand to DOI to establish a record on and determine the outcome of the jurisdictional question raised by Carcieri is the proper course of action at this point.”

The decision reads that following the DOI determination, a new Record of Decision would be issued that would be subject to further court review and, at that time, each of the parties’ arguments in their current motions for summary judgment could be renewed and considered.

“This is a clear setback to the OIN’s plans to place thousands of acres of lands scattered over Central New York into a real property tax-free trust status,” said Supervisor Rocco DiVeronica (R – Lenox) chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors Native American Affairs Committee. “The counties and state have presented extensive historical documents and expert reports showing that this group, the modern day ‘Oneida Indian Nation of New York,’ was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934 and are not entitled to the benefit of the Indian Reorganization Act’s land-into-trust provisions.”

In the meantime, county officials said in a statement last week, the OIN refuses to pay real property taxes, interest and penalties. Those sums are nearing $10 million, DiVeronica said.

“With the land not in trust, interest on the unpaid taxes will continue to accrue and will be part of the collection effort in separate proceedings,” DiVeronica said.

Pictured is Rocco J. DiVeronica.

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