NCPR: St. Regis Mohawk Tribe continues land claim negotiations

Leaders of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe signed a memorandum of understanding with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and local officials in May 2014. Photo from St. Regis Mohawk Tribe

The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Franklin County in New York appear to be making progress in resolving a long-running land claim:
Land matters to the Mohawks and it has for a long time. "That’s the most important thing to us, is our land," Chief Ron LaFrance said to NCPR last summer. "When you have your land and you have your base, you can have that forever."

In 1982, the Mohawks filed a lawsuit to get their land back. The suit is known as the land claim and it targeted 12,000 acres in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, near the Canadian border in upstate New York and adjacent to the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation.

Since then, several attempts to settle that lawsuit have fallen apart. Last summer one of the two counties — St. Lawrence — signed a deal with New York and the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe that they hoped would endure. The deal allows the Mohawks to purchase up to 5,000 acres of land in the towns Massena and Brasher, from willing sellers, and add that land to the reservation. In return, the Mohawks would pay revenue from their casino to the state and St. Lawrence County would get $4 million of that each year.

Franklin County’s negotiations are now front and center. Billy Jones, chair of the Franklin County legislature said, "We just want everybody to be treated fairly and that’s basically all we want. We want a fair resolution to both sides on this and we are negotiating in good faith."

Get the Story:
Mohawk land claims: Franklin county negotiating with tribe, state (North Country Public Radio 2/25)

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Doug George-Kanentiio: Late governor was no friend to Iroquois (01/09)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe gains support for land claim agreement (08/20)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Fire lawyers for bad Mohawk land deal (07/08)

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