Pataki signs pact with Oklahoma Cayugas to settle land claim

Saturday, November 13th 2004, 10:50 am
By: News On 6

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ Gov. George Pataki and the chief of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma have signed an agreement to settle the tribe's New York land claim, establish a Catskills casino and provide for tribal collection of sales taxes.

Pataki's office Friday evening announced the pact, signed by Seneca-Cayuga Chief LeRoy Howard and the governor. It still requires approval by Congress and the state Legislature.

``The agreement allows us to move forward with plans to establish the first of three new casinos in the Catskills, which would create thousands of new jobs and provide a tremendous boost to the region's economy,'' Pataki said in a prepared statement. ``Our agreement will also provide for the collection and remittance of state and local sales and excise taxes on products sold by the tribe.''

Howard said the Seneca-Cayugas are pleased a quarter-century of litigation has been ``resolved in a fashion that will benefit future generations of the tribe.''

The pact says the tribe will relinquish its interest in the $247.9 million federal court judgment obtained jointly with the Cayuga Indian Nation in 2002 and indemnify the state for final monetary judgment in the land claim case up to $350 million.

A federal judge set award to both Indian nations after ruling the state had illegally purchased 64,000 acres of reservation land in Cayuga and Seneca counties more than 200 years ago.

Both sides appealed the award and several related case rulings.