Lawmakers in Cayuga, Seneca counties plan to organize opposition to Cayuga Indian Nation's land-into-trust plans
Lawmakers from Cayuga and Seneca counties are planning a joint meeting Monday to start mounting opposition to the Cayuga Indian Nation's bid for federal trust land.
The meeting was called after both counties received the Cayugas' draft environmental impact statement, which supports the nation's trust application.
The Cayugas have asked the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to place into trust 125 acres of ancestral land they own. The trust designation would make the land sovereign and tax-free forever.
In the document, which The Post-Standard obtained Thursday, the Cayugas restate their plan to re-establish their sovereign homeland around Cayuga Lake and to reopen their Class II video gaming halls in Union Springs and Seneca Falls.
"The reestablishment of gaming facilities as a revenue source is critical to the nation's fiscal and cultural well-being," the document says.
As part of the application process, the BIA has scheduled a public hearing on the trust application next month. It will be held at the New York State Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls on June 17, and the BIA will accept written comments from May 22 to July 6.
"I think this is a very critical time for us to get out the opposition to putting that land into trust," Cayuga County Legislature Chairman Peter Tortorici said.
Syracuse lawyer Daniel French, who represents the Cayugas, said the nation is pleased the application process is moving forward. He also said he believes it is only a matter of time before the Cayugas' land is placed into trust.
The counties, joined by the Cayuga-Seneca chapter of Upstate Citizens for Equality, say awarding trust land to the Cayugas will put a greater tax burden on other property owners and give the nation a competitive edge over businesses that have to pay taxes.
"It's just not a fair ballgame," said UCE Chairman Richard Tallcot. Legislators plan to mount land-trust opposition in Cayuga, Seneca counties.
Friday, May 15, 2009
By Scott Rapp