The Seneca Nation of Indians have won a significant victory over New York State in federal Court.
Native News Online reports the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled in favor of Seneca Nation when it rejected the state’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Tribe in 2018. The lawsuit alleged ongoing violations of federal law related to the continued occupation of the New York State Thruway on the Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory.
At issue is a three-mile stretch of highway on I-90 that goes through the Seneca Reservation.
The Court’s decision upholds a 2020 United States District Court decision that denied the State’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
Tribal leaders contend the basis for the case originated in 1954 when the Seneca Nation was pressured to grant an easement for a thruway to be constructed over about 300 acres of its Cattaraugus Reservation.
Land easements on Indian Reservations require federal approval to be deemed valid, but New York State did not take action to get approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior to construct the thruway at the time.
The Tribe wants the Thruway Authority to seek a valid easement so that the Tribe can be compensated for motorists who drive on the portion of the freeway that goes through tribal land.
The Thruway Authority currently operates a toll station on tribal land and the Tribe is seeking to have the station closed.
Leave a Reply