US Supreme Court will hear Oneida foreclosure case

Verona, New York (AP) October 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear an appeal by two New York counties trying to foreclose on land owned by the Oneida Indian Nation to settle a property tax dispute.

The nation’s highest court will hear the appeal in the spring.

In April, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals said U.S. District Judge David Hurd was right when he decided in 2005 that Madison and Oneida counties could impose taxes on tribal land, but couldn’t seize it for nonpayment.

That ruling reaffirmed that federal law forbids lawsuits against a tribe unless authorized by Congress or the tribe waives immunity.

The dispute involves about 17,000 acres, including 13,000 the federal government has agreed to put into trust. That would exempt most of the land from taxation, but the state, counties and local citizen groups have sued to block the 2008 trust agreement.