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Mohawks, State Reach Tentative Land Claims Deal

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The three tribal councils that govern the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation near Massena yesterday announced a proposed settlement with New York State to end the 22 year-old Mohawk land claim. The councils represent the American, Canadian, and traditional constituencies in Akwesasne.
Under the deal, the state and federal governments would pay the Mohawks $100 million to compensate for land in St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties taken illegally in the early 1800s. The tribe would get Long Sault and Croil Islands on the St. Lawrence River, a 215 acre parcel on Massena Point, and the right to buy more than 13,000 acres of land within the claim area from willing sellers. The Mohawks would also get low-cost power, free SUNY tuition, and aboriginal hunting and fishing rights. Non-native towns would share a $10 million fund to compensate for lost tax revenues.
The agreement will now go before the Mohawk community for a referendum on November 27th. In a prepared statement, a spokesman for Governor Pataki said he was "encouraged by the good faith efforts being made by all sides to resolve this long-standing, historic dispute."
The proposed settlement is different from a deal reached last year by a previous tribal council in several key ways. David Sommerstein spoke yesterday with Chief Jim Ransom of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe.

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