New York counties trying to take Indian lands again

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case in which Oneida and Madison Counties in New York are trying to seize Oneida Nation lands.

For the past several decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has not been known for rendering Indian friendly decisions – so this case is worrisome.

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the City of Sherrill case that lands the Oneida Nation repurchased within its reservation borders from non-Indians did not automatically become Indian owned lands that were free of county property taxes.

The Nation has refused to pay the taxes and now most of the land, including the Turning Stone Casino properties, have been put into federal trust status which makes them non-taxable by states and counties.

The remaining lands, not yet taken into federal trust, are still at issue. The counties are trying to either get the taxes that are owed or to take the land.

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