FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
FRIDAY, AUGUST 3, 2001(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE STATEMENT REGARDING THE
NATIVE AMERICAN LAND CLAIM IN NEW YORK STATE
WASHINGTON, D.C. In the 1990s, the United States intervened in five lawsuits brought by Indian tribes against the State of New York and private landowners to resolve claims that the State of New York had acquired land from the tribes in violation of federal law. On January 19, 2000, the former administration announced that it had reviewed the United States' position on the role of private landowners in these lawsuits and had determined that the United States' policy was not to seek relief from individual landowners, but rather to hold the State liable for any and all remedies awarded by the courts.
Today, the United States filed papers in these five suits implementing the policy set by the prior administration. Specifically, the United States filed pleadings in Seneca Nation v. State of New York, No. 93-CV-0688A (Grand Island), Oneida v. State of New York, No. 74-CV-187, and St. Regis Mohawk Tribe v. New York, No. 89-CV-829 amending the United States' complaints so that it clearly states the previous administration 's change in position that private landowners and parties other than the state of New York should not be subject to liability. Given the procedural status of two cases - Seneca Nation of Indians v. State of New York, No. 85-CV-411C (Cuba Lake) and Cayuga Indian Nation v. Pataki, No. 80-CV-930, the United States filed letters with the Court indicating its intent to seek relief only against the State of New York.
"The United States will continue to pursue vigorously its existing claims against the State of New York on behalf of the Tribes and will continue to work to facilitate an amicable settlement between the Tribes and the State," said Attorney General John Ashcroft.
(The January 19th, letter from Lois J. Schiffer, then Assistant Attorney General, to the Honorable Joel A. Giambra, Erie County Executive, outlining the previous administration's policy change is available in hard copy. Please call 202-514-2007 to receive a fax copy of the letter.)