As the agreement between the Oneida Indian Nation and New York state and Madison and Oneida counties awaits a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn.
Among their concerns:
Could land owned by non-Indians that is encircled by land the Oneidas plan to put into federal Indian trust enter a jurisdictional limbo in which local and state laws are superseded by federal or Oneida Indian law?
Could the Nation engage in hydraulic fracturing on its federal Indian trust lands even if New York state bans it?
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente called the jurisdictional concerns “nonsense.”
"This is insulting to the entire process," he said. "Do you think the governor and everyone else would have agreed if that were the case?"
[Note: Picente and Cuomo would do anything for a brown paper bag.]
Under the agreement, signed in May, the Nation would get exclusive gaming rights in the region but must share 25 percent of its yearly slot machine revenue with the state and counties.
Also, the state and counties will not object to Nation plans to put up to 25,000 acres of its land into federal Indian trust. Such lands are not subject to state and local taxes and regulations.
"I don't even know what these guys are thinking," said Lana Marcussen, the legal consultant for the nationwide Citizens Equal Rights Alliance, which focuses on Indian issues.
Davis, Marcussen and CERA Board Chairman Judy Bachman of Vernon point to cases in other states where non-Indian homeowners within borders of historic Indian reservations have been subjected to federal laws rather than the laws of their states.
Assistant Oneida County Attorney Harris Samuels said that's not the case here.
"We won the land claim," he said, referring to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2011 decision not to hear a case over whether the Nation was owed as much as $500 million in damages for the loss of the land.
[Note: Harris does not grasp that this settlement will undo what has been won.]
Oneida Nation spokesman Joel Barkin pointed to portions of the agreement that state that the Nation would take no more than 25,000 acres into trust. He did not comment on the jurisdictional