Indianz.Com > News > Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe breaks ground on first housing project on reacquired treaty lands
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe broke ground on Kenténha/October 16, 2023 for the first set of family homes to be built on reclaimed treaty land. Joining in the event were (front row, from left) former-Tribal Chief Eric Thompson, Tribal Chief Michael Conners, Sub-Chief Benjamin Herne, Tribal Chief Beverly Cook, Sub-Chief Derrick King, Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance, Sub-Chief Agnes “Sweets” Jacobs, Assistant Executive Director Starr Thomas, and Executive Director Tsiorasa Barreiro; (Back row, from left) Home Improvement Program Foreman Lawrence Thomas and Calvin Leaf, along with Home Improvement Division Director Jamie Bay. Photo courtesy Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe
Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe breaks ground on first housing project on reacquired treaty lands
Tuesday, October 17, 2023

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is making history with a new housing project in the state of New York.

During a groundbreaking on Monday, tribal leaders, officials and contractors started work on two homes. Though the project is small in nature, it’s significant as the housing site is part of the area promised to the Mohawk people under the 1796 Seven Nations of Canada Treaty.

“It has been our community’s longstanding desire and Tribal Council’s ongoing goal to reacquire lands within Akwesasne’s land claim area for family housing,” Chief Michael Conner said in a news release.

“I am filled with an immense sense of pride in what our team has accomplished today — to provide homes for our families,” said Conner, one of three tribal chiefs.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Land Claim Areas
The purple-shaded area marked “A” shows the location of the Hogansburg Triangle in New York. Image Source: Resolve the Boundary Maps / Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe

The homes are being built in a 2,000-acre area known as the Hogansburg Triangle. Mohawk leaders have always said the land is part of their territory since the signing of the treaty more than 220 years ago but it wasn’t until 2017 that the state recognized tribal law enforcement authority there.

A year later, the tribe reacquired 240 acres in the Hogansburg Triangle. Names in the Mohawk language have since been assigned to the main roadway, known as Kahrhaká:ion (Old Forest) Road, and to the first street, known as Wáhta (Maple) Street.

“I am proud that we have been able to reacquire our lands to provide homes under our own jurisdiction for community members,” Chief Beverly Cook said of the three-bedroom and four-bedroom homes under construction.

“I am appreciative and grateful for all the effort that individuals have put into making this opportunity available for our families,” Cook added. “It is a great achievement by everyone who has been involved.”

The tribe expects to complete work on the first two homes on Wahta Street in the summer of 2024, when work is slated to begin on another four homes. Future plans could see as many as 48 homes in the Kahrhaká:ion Road area.

“Our efforts to reclaim and use our lands for the benefit of community members and families have never stopped,” said Chief Ron LaFrance. “What today represents is not the end of a process, but a beginning. It is a start for two families who do not have a home right now, and as we reacquire more land we will be able to provide more homes.”

Despite the progress on reasserting jurisdiction and reacquiring property within the Hogansburg Triangle, the tribe is still pursuing affirmation of its rights. Just last year, a federal judge it took a confirmed that the state of New York violated U.S. law by acquiring Mohawk treaty territory without federal approval.

The tribe has filed a series of land-into-trust applications to protect the reacquired properties from falling back into state hands.