B U F F A L O N E W S
Ruling may threaten Seneca's
Grand Island claim
A Seneca Nation lawyer is concerned that a
federal appeals court decision will destroy any chance the nation has of
winning its Grand Island land claim.
The Senecas and other tribes in the state are upset with a ruling issued
Tuesday by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The court ruled that
the Cayuga Indians are not entitled to $248 million that was awarded to
them by a lower court in a Central New York land claim case.
Attorney Joseph F. Crangle said late Thursday he fears
that the ruling will hurt the Senecas' continuing Grand Island land claim.
The Senecas have already lost their case before U.S. District Judge Richard
J. Arcara and the Second Circuit, but Crangle would like the appeals court
to conduct a further review.
By a 2-1 vote, a panel of judges ruled that the land
claim should be dismissed because so much time has passed since the Cayugas
lived on the land, and the tribe waited too long to seek relief. The court
also said it recognized the "long-standing, distinctly non-Indian character
of the area and its inhabitants."
Gov. George E. Pataki has called the ruling "a tremendous
victory for the property owners and taxpayers of Central New York."
"I am deeply troubled by Gov. Pataki's response to this
decision," said Barry E. Snyder Sr., Seneca Nations president. "To term it
"a tremendous victory for property owners and taxpayers' of the area
suggests that the Cayugas and Indian nations elsewhere in the state are
engaging in actions that seek to harm our non-Indian neighbors. Nothing
could be further from the truth."
Snyder said the Seneca Nation will continue to support
the Cayugas and other Indian nations seeking to recover ancestral