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A map of the Mohawk land claim.
A map of the Mohawk land claim.

Franklin County has the next move in Mohawk land claim deal

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A federal appeals board has ruled the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe can make 39 acres of land it owns part of the Akwesasne reservation.

The tribe has used the land as a garbage transfer station for more than a decade. But it's technically within the borders of Franklin County, just west of the town of Fort Covington. The tribe originally petitioned to have the parcel added to the reservation seven years ago.

The details of the transfer will remain unclear until Franklin County decides what to do about a proposed settlement to the larger Mohawk land claim. David Sommerstein reports.

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David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

St. Lawrence County has already signed onto a framework that would allow Mohawks to buy almost 5,000 acres of land in Massena and Brasher and make them part of the Akwesasne reservation.

In return, the county would get $4 million a year in perpetuity and a host of other perks from New York State.

But the Mohawk land claim lawsuit also includes several thousand acres of land in Bombay and Fort Covington in Franklin County.

Billy Jones, chairman of the Franklin County legislature, says the county has had "initial talks" with Governor Cuomo's staff. He says the county is moving slowly because the three decades old Mohawk land claim represents "hundreds of years of history. Whenever you’re talking about these issues, It is an emotional issue and it is a big issue," says Jones.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo has already begun to make good on some of the promises made to St. Lawrence County for signing a land claim settlement.

Transportation officials will study the possibility of a bypass around the villages of Canton and Potsdam. They’ll also review the results of previous studies that had found traffic on Route 11 did not justify an Interstate between Watertown and Plattsburgh.

And last week, Cuomo and the state legislature approved a new $2 million-a-year economic development fund for St. Lawrence County.

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