Akwesasne One Step Closer to ‘Land Back’ as New York State Governor Signs Off on Land Claim Bill
Nov 29, 2023
AKWESASNE — (Kentenhkó:wa/November 29, 2023) New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed Bill A7759 which was passed by the State legislature to authorize the Governor to sign a settlement, once finalized by the parties.
“This bill is part of the State’s process. Once all the settlement documents are finalized between all parties, this bill authorizes the Governor to sign the final negotiated settlement agreement. In addition, a final settlement will require federal approval via an act of Congress. We are not quite there, but are hopeful we will get there in the next couple months,” said Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief Beverly Cook.
The recently signed bill was first introduced in June 2023 and was sponsored by Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, (D–Chateaugay Lake), in the Assembly and Sen. Tim Kennedy, (D-Buffalo), in the Senate.
“There are still many steps to get to the final resolution, which is to get land back and increase Akwesasne’s land base for our children and grandchildren,” said Tribal Chief Michael Conners.
“It doesn’t really mean anything unless we can get all parties to agree. We have a few items that we need to iron out with some of the parties, but we expect to get those done very soon. This has been a very long journey,” said Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance.
A final deal on the land claim will require approval through an Act of Congress. The land claim was originally filed in 1982 by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, followed by the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs and then the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, regarding land that was illegally sold to New York in the 1800’s.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe was involved in reviewing the Bill and although not perfect, in the end the Tribe is satisfied that it was intended to grant authority to the Governor only after the three parties, which consists of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, approves of and signs the settlement.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe.