Victory in Mohawk Land Claim

On July 8, 2013, Judge Kahn of the federal district court in Albany upheld the Mohawk claim to approximately 2,000 acres of land near Hogansburg, New York.  The land was taken by the State of New York in 1824 and 1825 in violation of the federal Trade and Intercourse Act, the Mohawks point out.  The court also upheld the Mohawk claim that Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation unlawfully acquired a right of way for a power line across the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation in 1948.  The Reservation is near Hogansburg and the U.S-Canada border.   Judge Kahn rejected arguments that the Mohawks waited too long to make these claims and that the claims disrupt the expectations of the non-Indian landowners.

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation in 2005 that an Oneida Nation suit must be dismissed because the Court said the Oneida Nation had waited too long to file suit and the suit would disrupt the expectations of others in the area.  Major land claims by other Indian nations in New York were later dismissed on the same reasoning.   This is the first claim case since the Supreme Court’s decision in City of Sherrill that has not been dismissed.  Though Judge Kahn’s decision will almost certainly be appealed, the decision brings the Mohawks one step closer to achieving a fair and just resolution of their land claims.  The Center represents the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs in the case.