Tribe Reacquires 240 Acres of 1796 Treaty Land
Sep 27, 2018
Tribal Council Seeks Collective Benefit for Akwesasne Community
AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe announced it has reacquired 240 acres that was set aside for the Akwesasne Mohawk community by a 1796 federal treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada. The purchase of the former Horst Wuersching Property closed today for the price of $1,667 per acre ($400,000 total) and now clears the way for the land to be used for the collective benefit of the Tribe and all Mohawks of Akwesasne.
The 240-acre property is in the heart of the Akwesasne community and is located south of Route 37 and runs along Route 37C. The property is contiguous to 609 acres that were purchased by the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe in 2010. Both properties are located within what is commonly referred to as the “Hogansburg Triangle.”
The parcel contains a large stand of conifer trees, an open expanse of fields, and primarily sits on a high elevation. As a result, it provides an ideal location for community housing and other development projects, as well as habitat for birds and other wildlife.
“It has been a goal of our people for many generations to reacquire our reservation lands that were illegally lost between 1816 and 1845,” stated Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. “This purchase places control of these lands back under our jurisdiction, so it can be managed and preserved for the long-term interest of our rapidly-growing community,” Chief Thompson added.
Prior to final purchase, a Phase 1 environmental assessment was conducted, as well as a cultural assessment by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. Tribal Council also provided notice of intent for the proposed purchase with tribal membership at the July 2018 Monthly Meeting and engaged community members on social media for feedback.
“We feel this purchase is in the best interest of Akwesasne for the generations to come,” stated Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. “Our community continues to grow and our tribal properties continue to be developed. Affordable housing will be our primary objective as we seek to develop these lands in conjunction with the Akwesasne Housing Authority and the Home Improvement Program.”
In March 2009, the Tribe developed the Akwesasne Comprehensive Community Development Plan that engaged community members on their future vision for Akwesasne. It included the community’s aspirations and strategic direction for future development in all areas of community life; such as health services and social programs, land use and the environment. More importantly, it identified planned growth and the need to reacquire lands for the purpose of family housing.
“A survey was conducted in developing the Comprehensive Community Development Plan, with elders stressing the need for leadership to ensure that enough land is available for all families and children to live in Akwesasne,” said Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. Chief Cook noted, “It also showed that, given the scarcity of land, the majority of respondents strongly supported using community revenue to purchase acreage for the purpose of a housing development.”
The proposed vision for the 240-acre parcel includes a new Partridge House, a birthing center, a non-denominational gravesite, a recreational park and athletic field, an expansion of the Tribe’s Agricultural Program and its farm, as well as a solar farm that will provide electricity for a mix of single and multi-family housing units. It will also include an extension of Cook Road and the placement of a traffic light at its intersection with Route 37 for increased public safety.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to move forward and fulfill our community’s long-term vision for an expanded land base in the most cost efficient manner,” said Tribal Chief Michael Conners. Chief Conners noted, “It won’t happen overnight, but in time the land will allow the Tribe to improve its services through a new Partridge House and space for cultural activities, as well as the ability to provide suitable and affordable housing for coming generations.”
Tribal Council further stated their commitment to working with all stakeholders to develop the land over time for the greatest possible benefit for all Akwesashró:non. Tribal Council also acknowledged individuals, who through their own efforts and sacrifice, as well as their families, advanced our community’s desire to expand our people’s land base through the reacquisition of treaty lands.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk People