An article in Indian Country Today highlights recent losses by tribes in court rulings that Indian nations could not reclaim their illegally taken ancestral lands or receive compensation for their losses.
In particular, in two eastern land rights cases by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York and the Onondaga Nation, the article claims that the courts “tossed aside some of the earliest Indian treaties with the United States and ignored the federal government’s own laws prohibiting the sale or transfer of Indian land without the approval of Congress.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rules against the Oneida Nation and weeks later a federal district court dismissed the Onondaga Nation’s land rights suit.
The Onondaga Nation sought a declaratory judgment that various lands were unlawfully acquired by New York in violation of the federal Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, the U.S. Constitution, the 1784 Treaty of Fort Stanwix and the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua.
In his Sept. 22 decision, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn said the “profoundly disruptive nature” of the nation’s claims – meaning disruptive to those who are currently occupying and benefitting from the developed land – “fails to state a claim for which relief may be granted.”