AP Photo
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and Oneida Indian Nation Ray Halbritter talk while signing an agreement May 16 that gives the nation exclusive casino rights in Central New York. Standing in back are John Becker, chairman of the Madison County Board of Supervisors, left, and Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente.

Cayuga Nation Submits Court Filing Regarding Oneida – New York Agreement

June 14, 2013

With the historic agreement between the Oneida Indian Nation and Gov. Andrew Cuomo soon to be heard by the State Legislature the Cayuga Nation has raised objections to one element of the wide-ranging agreement in a court filing. As recently reported, the sweeping new agreement between the state and Oneida resolves all existing issues between the two parties (and local municipalities) involving taxation, land rights, land use, trust land and gaming.

According to Syracuse.com, the Cayuga Nation is seeking to join a lawsuit filed by New York state in 2008 against the federal government. Cayuga argues the new agreement infringes on the possibility of Cayuga’s opening its own gaming operation should it ever secure trust land and rights to gaming. The agreement that was announced on May 16 included exclusivity rights on gaming within 10 counties of Turning Stone Resort Casino.

"We have repeatedly asked the parties to this agreement to acknowledge the Cayuga Nation's rights, but our overtures have not been met with a meaningful response," said Clint Halftown, the Cayuga Nation's federally-recognized representative, in a statement via Syracuse.com. "Therefore, the Cayuga Nation has no choice but to formally challenge this agreement in court."

The lawsuit from 2008 would be dropped as part of the agreement with the Oneidas, which would require the approval of a federal judge in the trust land case.

As reported by Indian Country Today Media Network, the Interior Department agreed to take into trust more than 13,000 acres of the 17,350 acres the Oneidas owned in 2008. Both Madison and Oneida counties opposed that move, but they would drop their opposition with this agreement. The new agreement would allow the Oneidas to put up to 25,000 acres into trust throughout the two counties. (Related Story: The Peacemakers: Inside New York and Oneida’s Historic Agreement)

“The agreement brings security and finality to the land, which is one of the important goals for us. And, of course, what is land without an economic base? So we were able to secure our land and our economic base, and those two things are pretty important,” Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative and CEO of Nation Enterprises, parent company of ICTMN said.

The Oneida County Board of Legislators and the Madison County Board of Supervisors both approved the agreement in votes cast the last week of May.