New York Gov. David Paterson settled a 23,000-acre, 14-year old land claim with the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans on Monday by transferring rights to the Tribe for 333 acres in the Catskill Mountain location of Sullivan County and 1.84 acres in Madison County.
The federal government must still approve taking the land into trust for the Tribe as reservation land.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans moved from Stockbridge, MA, to settle on land that is now Madison County in 1785 at the invitation of the Oneida Indian Nation but later removed to Wisconsin, the current location of the Tribe's reservation.
Representatives of the Oneida Nation are upset over the deal and said it should be investigated. “The deal made by Governor Paterson and Madison County leadership with the Stockbridge Munsee was shrouded in secrecy,” said Mark Emery, an Oneida Nation spokesman.
The land deal brings the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans one step closer to their goal of building a casino in the Catskill Mountains as well as reclaiming aboriginal lands. The principals of Trading Cove Associates, the group that built and managed the Mohegan Sun Casino, are partners of the Stockbridge-Munsee in their quest to build a casino about ten miles from the Monticello Racetrack in the Catskill Mountains.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined Paterson when the agreement was announced. "This compact is not a guarantee, but it's the closest we've come. Our message to the Department of Interior is simple: Just say yes," said Schumer.
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