Deal Worth Millions Reached In Mohawk Land Claims
The decades-long Mohawk land claim in St. Lawrence County is "closer to resolution than ever," according to a statement from the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Wednesday afternoon.
Millions of dollars will change hands, and the tribe will have the right to buy close to 5,000 acres of land in the towns of Brasher and Massena to become tribal lands.
A "memorandum of understanding" outlining the terms was signed in Albany Wednesday.
Under the terms of the deal:
- The tribe can buy, "only from willing sellers," 3,440 acres in Brasher and 1,360 acres in Massena.
- St. Lawrence County gets a one time payment of $2 million from the state.
- St. Lawrence County gets a one time payment of $1.5 million from the tribe.
- St. Lawrence County gets $4 million from the state every year, going forward.
- The St. Regis Mohawks get $2 million from the state Power Authority for the next 35 years.
- The Mohawks get up to nine megawatts of electricity at the state's lowest price.
- Free tuition and fees for any tribe member to any SUNY school.
The settlement with St. Lawrence County is not quite final, because the tribe has not come to terms with neighboring Franklin County.
The agreement must be approved at the local, county, state and federal levels. The agreement announced Wednesday incorporates elements of previous agreements reached between the state and the tribe that were never finalized.
“Our Tribe and our people have worked toward this agreement for 32 years,” said Chief Beverly Cook of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council.
“Our Council is carrying the work from our past leaders forward; we’ve built on each other’s efforts, and we remain committed to a negotiated settlement that benefits our Mohawk people and our neighbors.”
Tribal Chief Paul Thompson said the signing of the MOU is "a historic time" for the Mohawks.
“For decades, the state and the Mohawks were at a stalemate. We can now look forward to years of mutual respect and cooperation,” Governor Cuomo said in a press release.
"After years of discord, we have the framework that protects the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s gaming exclusivity and provides millions of dollars to our local governments and school districts," said Jon Putney, chair of the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators.
"I commend Governor Cuomo for helping forge the path forward and bringing all parties together for this historic moment," he said.
Wednesday, March 4, 2015, Watertown, NY
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