PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (CN) – The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe says New York State and Franklin County are violating a 213-year-old treaty by trying to impose their laws and taxes on sovereign land.
The Mohawks say the state and county wrongfully claim that an area known as the Hogansburg Triangle is outside the reservation.
The 1796 Treaty with the Seven Nations of Canada set aside 6 square miles of land for the Mohawks. The treaty was ratified by Congress.
The Triangle is bounded on three sides by the original reservations and has a “distinct Indian character,” the Mohawks say in their federal claim. Most of the Triangle land is Indian owned and occupied.
“The Tribe provides municipal services to the Hogansburg Triangle, including road construction, water, sewage and trash collection for both Indians and non-Indians in the area. The Tribe also licenses business in the area. The Tribal Police Department polices the area and the Tribe also funds fire and emergency services. The fire station, built with Tribal funds, is located within the Triangle,” the Mohawks say.
The Mohawks want to put an end to the “many disputes” over the Triangle.
The tribe says Franklin County improperly tries to enforce local building codes, to impose licensing laws on Indian businesses, and to tax tribally owned land.
Gov. David Paterson and Franklin County are named as defendants.
The Mohawks are represented by Marsha K. Schmidt with Hobbs Straus, Dean & Winter in Washington, D.C.