NY, Oneidas lower offer for claims
- Oneidas lower offer for claims
But central New York officials say $250 million, 29,000-acre proposal is too high based on recent court rulings
By JAMES M. ODATO, Capitol bureau
First published: Friday, August 12, 2005
ALBANY -- The Oneida Nation of New York proposes to resolve the giant Oneida land claim in central New York for $250 million from the state and the right to a reservation of 27,500 acres, according to a confidential document submitted to a federal mediator.
The proposal -- a substantial concession to a deal proposed in 2002 by Gov. George Pataki -- is exorbitant based on recent court decisions unfavorable to the Oneidas, central New York elected officials said Thursday.
The offer came from Oneida representative Ray Halbritter late last week after a mediation session in July involving all the parties of the 250,000-acre land claim suit. The mediator called together the four plaintiffs -- the federal government and three Oneida factions -- and defendants, including county and state governments.
Halbritter proposes cutting in half Pataki's 2002 land claim settlement offer of $500 million, to which the Wisconsin Oneidas opposed. Halbritter, according to an informed source, would settle for $250 million split among the three Oneida plaintiffs; the New York nation would receive $87.5 million, the bigger Wisconsin Oneida nation would receive $125 million and the Oneidas of Canada would get $12.5 million.
The counties of Madison and Oneida would split $25 million. The New York tribe would get 27,500 acres declared sovereign Oneida land, instead of the 35,000 acres proposed in 2002. Plus the out-of-state Oneidas would not be allowed any Indian land in New York.
"We couldn't live with that," said Rocco Diveronica, chairman of Madison County's board of supervisors, saying he had heard of such details.
He and Madison County lawyer John Campanie, who attended the mediation session, said court decisions in recent months substantially weakened the Oneidas' bargaining position. The U.S. Supreme Court declared the 18,000 acres owned by the New York Oneidas non-sovereign, taxable land, leaving them just a 32-acre reservation.
And a decision by a federal appeals court declared that a $248 million judgment against the state in the Cayuga land claim case does not have to be paid.
"The legal landscape has changed dramatically," said Campanie. "Today the starting point for negotiations is 32 acres and no monetary claim."
Sen. Ray Meier, R-Western, said Halbritter's offer is unacceptable and unrealistic.
Lawyers for the New York and Wisconsin Oneidas would not discuss settlement offers because mediation sessions are supposed to be confidential. A Pataki administration spokesman did not return calls.
A source briefed about the Wisconsin tribe's proposal, said the tribe is holding to the terms Pataki had included in legislation has has since withdrawn. The deal would have allowed the Wisconsin Oneidas to pay off the New York tribe for any monetary damaged owed. The deal also called for giving the Wisconsin tribe a gaming compact for a Catskills casino and 1,000 acres of land in central New York for ceremonial purposes. Pataki withdrew the deal because it also allowed the New York Oneidas to 35,000 acres of Indian land.
Oneida Nation - http://www.oneida-nation.net
Oneida Nation Decision:
| Opinion [Ginsburg]
| Concurrence [Souter]
| Dissent [Stevens]
GIVE FOOD: THE HUNGERSITE
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