In February 2005, the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs (a traditional Haudenosaunee government), the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe , and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne signed an agreement with Governor George Pataki to resolve their historic claim to lands in Northern New York.
Represented by the Indian Law Resource Center, the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs approved the agreement only after years of vigorous advocacy to ensure that the deal adequately protected the interests of their community and of future generations of Mohawks. “Through a lot of hard work at home and at the negotiating table, the Council of Chiefs has forged an agreement they can be very proud of,” said Indian Law Resource Center attorney Alex Page.
The settlement agreement resolves legal claims first filed in federal court nearly twenty-five years ago. Those claims site repeated violations of a federal treaty confirming Mohawk land rights. Under the settlement, the Mohawks will receive lands and monetary compensation, as well as the opportunity to further expand their territory through purchases from willing sellers. The agreement does not include casinos or taxation, two issues the Mohawks successfully fought to keep separate from the land claim.
"The Akwesasne Mohawks are a truly unique community of people who have united to cooperatively end this divisive litigation," Governor Pataki said. "I am very pleased that our collective efforts will achieve a fair resolution of the land claim, while protecting the interests of local governments, landowners and taxpayers in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties. We look forward to working together with the Legislature and Congress to implement this agreement."
Although legislation implementing the settlement passed the New York Assembly in 2005, the State Senate was not able to vote on the measure. We hope to see such legislation passed in the near future.
The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the US-Canadian border and is governed by three Mohawk councils. The Indian Law Resource Center has represented the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs for more than twenty years.
Read More About the Mohawk Settlement with New York State
Governor Pataki Press Release (February 1, 2005)
“Pataki, tribe settle lawsuit: Deal ends land claim,” (Times Union, February 2, 2005)
“Pataki signs Indian pact; key hurdle for casinos” (Herald-Record, February 2, 2005)