Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cayuga Indian Land Claim Tossed By US Circuit Court

In a case that has dire ramifications for other Indian Land Claim suits, the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Cayugas waited too long to file their claim. The court followed the precedent set by the US Supreme Court in their recent decision against the Oneida Indians and in favor of the city of Sherill, New York. The Cayugas had been awarded $248 million from Cayuga and Seneca counties by a lower court. Both sides appealed that decision, the counties saying it was too high and the Cayugas saying it was too low.

From the Associated Press:
Cabranes and Justice Rosemary Pooler said those considerations included the passage of so much time; that most of the tribe moved elsewhere; the tribe's long delay in seeking relief; and the "long-standing, distinctly non-Indian character of the area and its inhabitants."

As a result the appeals court reversed and dismissed the Cayuga's entire 25-year-old land claim. The two judges also concluded that the Cayugas claim for trespass damages could not go forward "for the simple reason that there can be no trespass unless the Cayugas possessed the land in question."
This decision should directly affect four other Indian land claims in New York State, including the Onondagas', currently making their way through the court system. The decision is good news for property owners in New York State, and bad news for those who propagate hatred.