December 20, 2011
The U. S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs dismissed a gaming application submitted by the Cayuga Nation of New York for the acquisition of land in trust for gaming purposes in Seneca County, returning the application
to the tribe. The tribe’s application was incomplete, and did not address all of the requirements contained in the Department’s regulations, noted Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk in a press released issued on December 20, 2011. The Department has removed the application from consideration, although the tribe can submit a new application at a time when it is prepared to address all of the relevant factors in the regulations.
Read the press release.
Read the application fact sheet.
Final Environmental Impact Statement Now Complete
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has completed the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the fee-to-trust application for the Cayuga Indian Nation (CIN). The notice of availability of the FEIS was published in the Federal Register on October 22, 2010.
The next step in the process is the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD) which is the document that will be used to issue the Department of the Interior's determination on whether to grant or deny CIN's applications for land to be taken into trust. The ROD may be issued either by the Secretary of the Department of the Interior or its designee, the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The ROD cannot be issued until 30 days after the FEIS is issued, which is November 22, 2010 (November 21st is a weekend day so the first day it could be published is November 22).
Copies of the FEIS are available for viewing at the following locations during normal business hours:
2552 Route 89
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
299 Cayuga Street
Union Springs, NY 13160
Seneca Falls Library
47 Cayuga Street
Seneca Falls, NY 13148
Springport Free Library
171 Cayuga Street
P. O. Box 501
Union Springs, NY 13160
Cayuga and Seneca Counties provided a substantial number of comments to the DEIS as referenced in the FEIS.
Federal Appeals Court Rules in Favor of State Against Indian Cigarette Wholesales
On May, 9, 2011, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of New York State and against Indian cigarette wholesalers. The court held that the state may collect sales and excise taxes on cigarettes sold at Native American smoke shops to non-Indians. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara correctly denied a request by the Cayuga Indian Nation, Seneca Nation and other Indian tribes for an injunction prohibiting the state from collecting the taxes. Read the decision. Read story from The Buffalo News.
On May 10, a State Supreme Court Judge granted the Seneca Indian Nation a temporary restraining order baring New York State from collecting sales tax until a June 1 hearing to determine whether the state followed its own rules in adopting taxing regulations. Read story from the Democrat and Chronicle.
Federal Court Hears Oral Argument in Seneca County Foreclosure Proceedings
On May 5, 2011, the Hon. Charles J. Siragusa of United States District Court for the Western District of New York in Rochester heard oral argument on a motion by the Cayuga Indian Nation (CIN) to bar Seneca County from continuing any efforts to foreclose on CIN land that is in arrears on property taxes. Read the Court Brief. The CIN argued that sovereign immunity prevents the county from foreclosing on the property. The CIN relied on a decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. Madison County, which upheld the district court's decision that sovereign immunity protected the Oneida Indian Nation from foreclosure. The county argued that sovereign immunity is not a defense in tax foreclosure proceedings. The county based its arguments on the decisions of the United States Supreme Court in County of Yakima v. Yakima Indian Nation and City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York. Judge Siragusa said he would issue a written decision.
BIA Decisions Regarding Use of Land
In February 2011 the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected a proposed gaming compact between the Stockbridge-Munsee Community Band of Mohican Indians and the State of New York because the proposed compact restricts the use of the land to only gaming rather than allowing non-gaming activities as well. Read the decision.
In a related 2005 case, the Bureau of Indian Affairs had rejected the approval of a gaming compact between the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon and the State of Oregon because the subject land had not been placed in trust. Read the decision.
Temporary Restraining Order Baring New York State from Collecting Sales Tax Has Been Lifted
On June 8, 2011, State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek lifted the temporary restraining order that she previously granted on May 10, 2011, and also denied as moot the Senecas' motion for an injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing the cigarette tax regulations. The decision reviews in some detail the factual background and the parties' contentions. Justice Siwek concludes that the DTF regulations are valid and enforceable because, as she finds, they were enacted in "substantial compliance" with the State's Administrative Procedure Act. Read the decision.