US District Court Says ‘Hogansburg Triangle’ Is Akwesasne Land

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AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council announced this week that U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn ruled that New York’s purchase of reservation land — known as the Hogansburg Triangle — violates federal law on the non-sexual relationship.

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In 1824 and 1825, NY attempted to purchase approximately 2,000 acres of reservation land without the presence of a federal commissioner or any ratified federal law. The land, located at the center of the St. Regis reservation, was explicitly set aside for the use of tribal members in a 1796 treaty. This treaty was ratified by the U.S. Congress on May 31, 1796.

This land dispute has been going on for decades. Now the 1796 treaty boundaries remain in place and encompass the triangle of Hogansburg, Massena Mile Square, Fort Covington Mile Square and the adjacent town, as well as grassland areas of the Grasse River.

“To say we are satisfied is an understatement,” said Beverly Cook, chief of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. “We should all be proud of the perseverance shown by our ancestors recent and ancient, who stood firm in their determination to protect our lands. We are following in the footsteps of our parents and grandparents who fought tirelessly to reclaim our illegally taken land. The process will continue to require patience and critical reflection as we seek to resolve the many complexities of a final remedy and settlement of our land claim.

“Today is a tremendous victory for Akwesasne, who has been preparing for decades. It is a positive step forward, with many steps still to be taken. This could not have happened without the leadership of our past Council members who, with recent and current councils, (who) have always kept an eye on our children and grandchildren to come,” the Chief said. of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, Michael Conners. .

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Brendan F. White, director of communications for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, said the remedy for the Hogansburg triangle will likely be different from the remedy that will be provided by a judge for the mile squares demarcated in the Treaty and Grasse River meadows.

“The transactions surrounding the Hogansburg Triangle have historically been contested and are primarily occupied by tribal members, which sets the stage for title to be transferred to the tribe,” White said.

From 1790 to 1834, the US government passed six federal laws to regulate trade with Indian nations and set out clear rules for the purchase of tribal properties. The Non-Intercourse Act maintains that only legislation ratified by the US Congress can transfer land title to the purchaser. NY did not follow these laws. The court dismissed state and county counterclaims that the tribe’s reservation had been removed or diminished by later treaties.

“I have always maintained that the state violated the Non-Intercourse Act by not having any of these purchases approved by Congress. During land claims negotiations, I always asked if the state sought federal approval for any purchase by New York State of Mohawk lands? I also pointed out that only an act of Congress can remove or diminish the boundaries of a reservation. Today we have managed to prove we were right all along,” said St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Chief Ron Lafrance.

White said the tribe had no other outstanding claims, but said Akwesasne’s claim regarding the 1796 treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada was still in federal court.

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