After 18-years, the federal government has approved the Cayuga Indian Nation’s application to transfer land into trust.
Yesterday the nation announced that Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland notified federally recognized representative for the nation, Clint Halftown, the that the Bureau of Indian Affairs has approved the nation’s application to transfer 101 acres of land in Cayuga County into a trust.
The nation submitted its land-to-trust application in April 2005, seeking to exempt the nation from local and state taxes and land use laws. The Nation operates a number of businesses on the land, including an electronic gaming facility, a gas station and a convenience store.
The Supreme Court has ruled that trust land qualifies as a reservation if it has been set apart for the use of Tribes and therefore meets the definition of reservation.
“Despite many delays and constant political opposition, the Cayuga Nation never stopped fighting for approval of its trust application,” Halftown said in a statement. “Today is a historic day for the Nation and its citizens. We applaud the BIA and Assistant Secretary Newland for seeing the merit of our application and having the courage to approve it after all this time.”
The nation said that the decision “reaffirms the Cayuga Nation’s rights under the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua and sends a clear message to those who questioned the Nation’s sovereignty.”
Halftown also said that the trust land “accounts for only a small portion of the Nation’s 64,015-acre reservation in what are now Cayuga and Seneca Counties” and that the nation “will continue to reclaim our land and build a strong economic foundation for Cayuga citizens. Today’s BIA decision is good news for our citizens, but our work is far from finished.”