LAND BACK - Akwesasne Mohawk Plaintiffs Convene Land Claim Information Session
Nov 20, 2023
AKWESASNE - The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council hosted it’s third Land Claim Information Session of 2023 for general membership, on Kentenhkó:wa/November 16, 2023 at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort. Open discussions were held by community members of Akwesasne regarding the 41-year-old Akwesasne Mohawks Land Claim lawsuit with New York State and the federal government.
The “Akwesasne Mohawks Land Claim Information” was distributed by Tribal Council to members of Akwesasne, which included a chronology of Land Claim activity since 1982, along with over 30 frequently asked questions, and the Land Claim Maps of Areas A, B (Zones 1 and 2), C, D and total acreage to be reclaimed through a final settlement.
Chief Beverly Cook opened the meeting, welcoming everyone, followed by roundtable introductions of members from the Tri-Council, with participating representatives from the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, and the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs, and a member of its legal counsel.
The Tribe presented an overview of the Claim, including the remaining actions or steps to be completed, and pertinent aspects of the settlement agreements. A copy of the presentation may be requested by visiting the Tribal Clerk’s Office.
Questions from the floor ranged from payments by the Tribe to the tuition benefit, County deeds v. Tribal use and occupancy, foreclosure and back taxes, consequences of not settling and being ordered back to court to resume litigation, FERC relicensing, power-megawatts, settling of the 1796 Treaty lands, right of first refusal for property not within the settlement, and impact of previous cases (City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York) and other Haudenosaunee Land Claim outcomes, etc.
Chief Cook explained that “[the Tribe is] still in court…[the Plaintiffs] can’t get out of the lawsuit in court…It is better to settle to get the opportunity to get as much land back as we can. We and the Magistrate are still waiting for [other parties] to respond.” It was relayed to attendees that the next status reports from the parties was to be due on Friday, November 17th.
“Many of our community members have worked hard over the years to reclaim this land, some of them are no longer with us. This has been a long journey and we are at a critical point now,” remarked Chief LaFrance.
“It is not about [the money], it’s about reacquiring land, to expand the reservation,” stated Chief Michael Conners, adding “The money is irrelevant, compared to getting our land back, which was always the goal since the beginning.”
“This is the best it is ever going to get. We are actually winning, we’re getting back the land that we sued for… we didn’t sue for the Adirondacks, or the Mohawk Valley, or Ganienkeh. We sued for the 1796 Treaty lands and we are getting most of it back. I support you and please move ahead with this finally,” stated a community member at the close of the meeting.
The Tribal Council encourages members to review the information provided on the Claim at www.srmt-nsn.gov and attend future information sessions, in addition to Tribal Monthly Meetings where regular updates are provided to membership.