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Pataki, city, foes pleased with Oneida Nation ruling

Lots of people in New York are pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Oneida Nation's treaty rights case on Tuesday.

Gov. George Pataki (R), the city of Sherrill and opponents to the tribe welcomed the 8-1 ruling, which held that the tribe cannot "unilaterally" reassert its sovereignty over its 250,000-acre land claim area. The court said the tribe waited too long to seek tax immunities and other rights associated with Indian lands.

Officials in Sherrill say the Oneida Nation owes about $7,000 a year in property taxes for land within city limits. The tribe could owe up to $1.7 million for other properties, according to tax officials in Oneida and Madison counties, the defendants in the Oneida land claim lawsuit.

Opponents of the tribe hoped the ruling will affect the claim and force the tribe to settle. But others disputed the reach of the decision, while some were still studying its potential impact on the Cayuga Nation of New York and the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma. Both tribes have reclaimed property in their land claim area.

Elsewhere in the nation, others are hoping the ruling will help them in battles against tribes too. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said it bolsters the state's case in a tax dispute with a tribal member, and an opponent of gambling in Alabama said the Poarch Creek Band's casino is illegal because it is not located on Indian land.

Get the Story:
Justices Refuse to Restore Sovereignty to Land Bought by Indians (The New York Times 3/29)
Court sides with Sherrill (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 3/30)
Court ruling may have longer-lasting effects (The Utica Observer-Dispatch 3/30)
Justices say tribe must pay taxes on new land (AP 3/30)
Supreme Court rules in Oneida case (The Syracuse Post-Standard 3/30)
Cayuga, others study effect of decision (The Syracuse Post-Standard 3/30)
Decision On New York Tax Case Could Affect Mashantucket Appeal (The New London Day 3/30)
Court's Indian land ruling puts Creek's Montgomery gaming hall in question (AP 3/29)

Get the Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Concurrence [Souter] | Dissent [Stevens]

Relevant Links:
Oneida Nation -
NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project -

Decision in Oneida Indian Nation v. City of Sherrill:
Majority Opinion | Van Graafeiland Dissent

Decision in Cayuga Indian Nation v. Village of Union Springs:
Decision | Order (April 23, 2004)

Related Stories:
Major defeat for Oneida Nation in Supreme Court case (3/29)
Oneida Nation ruling could impact land claims (01/13)
Passage of time at issue in Oneida Nation case (01/12)
Oneida Nation wants court to uphold promises (1/12)
Supreme Court rejects two Indian law cases (1/12)
Supreme Court to hear Oneida Nation land dispute (1/10)
New York municipalities pony up for court brief (12/14)
Hearing set for Oneida Nation treaty rights case (11/12)
Supreme Court takes action on Indian law cases (11/02)
Tribes file briefs in Oneida Nation land case (10/18)
Supreme Court Roundup: 2003-2004 Term (07/08)
Supreme Court to hear dispute over Oneida Nation land (06/29)
Oneida Nation sees support in Bush administration brief (06/08)
Appeal planned in Cayuga Nation land rights case (04/30)
Cayuga Nation land rights upheld by federal judge (4/26)
Cayuga Nation's plans for land worry some in village (04/07)
Report: Seneca-Cayuga Tribe has bigger plans in store (04/06)
NIGC accused of 'ducking' casino land issue in N.Y. (03/23)
Judge in N.Y. hears Seneca-Cayuga land dispute (03/12)
Supreme Court asks for DOJ brief in Oneida case (02/24)
Bill would terminate out-of-state sovereign rights (09/26)
Appeals expected in Seneca-Cayuga Tribe's land case (09/10)
Judge to decide fate of Seneca-Cayuga Tribe's land (9/9)
Cayuga tribes slowly reclaiming ancestral territory (09/02)
Okla. tribe says court decision bolsters case (07/24)
Cayuga Nation welcomes Indian Country decision (07/23)
Oneida Nation wins treaty lands case (7/22)