Federal gov't reverses decision on Oneida Nation Census maps by Matt Mulcahy
The United States Department of the Interior and the U.S. Census Bureau have taken away boundaries on the new Census maps that showed Oneida Nation land suddenly growing tenfold. The new maps gave the appearance of stretching the Nation's property from 32 acres to more than 300,000. That switch will now be reversed.
The maps came as a surprise to people in the area, including government leaders who did not know the change was coming. Senator Charles Schumer learned of the new boundaries by reading it in the Utica newspaper during a visit to the region.
He then called Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. That conversation led to a retraction of the new boundaries. The Senator claims someone was sneaking it through, "I don't know how this slipped in it seems to be a below the table operation . Now we're back to where we were. And everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. This is the kind of thing that makes people wonder what the heck is going on in Washington."
The Oneida Indian Nation is not happy with what it calls Senator Schumer's interference. It put out a strongly worded statement this afternoon.
This is the entire statement issued by the Oneida Indian Nation late this afternoon:
"Every court that has ever considered this issue has ruled that the Oneida Nation reservation was never disestablished. Even after Senator Schumer's interference, the Department of Interior's new letter still acknowledges that "the Oneida Reservation has not been disestablished and is intact" and that "this position is legally binding." Severe legal issues arise when a member of Congress uses his elected position to unduly influence a regulatory process, and especially the Census Bureau, for improper political purposes. The Oneida Nation obviously will not permit such misconduct to occur. The Nation will be pursuing Senator Schumer's misconduct with the appropriate authorities who have jurisdiction over these matters, and we will defer further comment to allow the legal process to run its course."
Senator Schumer says now that the maps are being returned to a 32 acre reservation for the Oneidas people in the area can breathe easily again