Courts Address Disputes on Indian Nation Lands

March 24, 2021

New York and federal law both set forth rules respecting Native American tribes. For instance, Section 2 of the New York Indian Law defines the term “Indian nation or tribe” to mean one of the following New York State Indian nations or tribes: Cayuga Nation, Oneida Nation of New York, Onondaga Nation, Poospatuck or Unkechauge Nation, Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Seneca Nation of Indians, Shinnecock Indian Nation, Tonawanda Band of Seneca, and Tuscarora Nation.

The state and federal systems are not necessarily completely in sync. As an example, consider that although it was not until 2010 that the Shinnecock Indian Nation received formal recognition by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Shinnecock Indian Nation has been a recognized, sovereign Indian tribe in New York since colonial times; that status is, among other places, codified in Article 9 of the New York Indian Law.

Sovereign Indian tribes facing economic woes often seek to develop their property, or to simply maintain control of their property, for the benefit of their members. When disputes arise, New York courts may become involved.

Two recent cases, both arising on Long Island, illustrate the complexities of the issues and the law, as well as the significant property and financial interests involved.

Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Wednesday, March 24, 2021, Vol 265 – No. 55.

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