NY State Governor Signs Off on Tribal Land Claim Bill

New York State Capitol

AKWESASNE, NY – New York State Governor Kathy Hochul has signed Bill A7759, which authorizes the Governor to execute a settlement relating to certain land claims between the state and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, and the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs once finalized by the parties.

“This bill is part of the state’s process,” said Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. “Once all the settlement documents are finalized between all parties, this bill authorizes the Governor to sign the final negotiated settlement agreement. In addition, a final settlement will require federal approval via an act of Congress. We are not quite there, but are hopeful we will get there in the next couple months.”

The recently signed bill was first introduced in June 2023 and was sponsored by Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, (D–Chateaugay Lake), in the Assembly and Sen. Tim Kennedy, (D-Buffalo), in the Senate.

“There are still many steps to get to the final resolution, which is to get land back and increase Akwesasne’s land base for our children and grandchildren,” said Tribal Chief Michael Conners. 

“It doesn’t really mean anything unless we can get all parties to agree,” said Tribal Chief Ron LaFrance. “We have a few items that we need to iron out with some of the parties, but we expect to get those done very soon. This has been a very long journey.”

A final deal on the land claim will require approval through an Act of Congress. The land claim was originally filed in 1982 by the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, followed by the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs and then the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, regarding land that was illegally sold to New York in the 1800’s.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe was involved in reviewing the bill and although not perfect, in the end the tribe was satisfied that it was intended to grant authority to the Governor only after the three parties – which consists of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne – approve of and sign the settlement.