CENTRAL NEW YORK -- The latest court ruling in the Oneida Land Trust lawsuit is a win for the Nation. Two years ago, the Department of Interior decided to put 13,000 acres of land into trust for the Oneida Indian Nation.
On Monday, a federal court dismissed a number of claims brought by the Central New York Fair Business Association, along with Oneida County Legislator Michael Hennessy, Assemblyman David Townsend and others.
In U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn's decision, he said:
* Upheld the constitutionality of trust land
* Rejected claims of illegal gaming on non-Indian lands
* Reaffirmed the Oneida reservation was never disestablished
* Dismissed allegations the Department of Interior's land into trust decision was racially discriminatory
* Upheld the decision to transfer the 18 acre Verona annex to the Griffiss Air Force Base
* Dropped claims against Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.
"We expected it. We've always known it's got to go to the Supreme Court and that's where the final determining decision should be made," said Hennessy.
In a statement, Nation spokesperson Mark Emery said, "In the absence of a resolution, the Nation obviously is very pleased with this ruling, as it moves the trust land challenges significantly closer to closure."
Oneida County has its own lawsuit against the nation. Last year the Board of Legislators rejected a $55 million agreement that would have ended the county's land trust lawsuits. County Executive Anthony Picente said he'd be willing to negotiate again only if the board lays out its parameters.
"If we want to deal with what is in front us and what's under our direction in terms of property taxes, and land use and issues that are relevant and under our direction and together with the Oneidas then let's do it," said Picente.
Hennessy says he has no regrets about rejecting last year's proposed settlement. At this point in time the Trust Land Issue will move forward in the courts.
In a statement to News 10 Now, Assemblyman David Townsend said he wasn't surprised by the court's decision and this issue should go all the way to the Supreme Court.