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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2005

Schumer Blasts Feds For Using Wrong Model To Assess Oneida Land Into Trust Application

Schumer: “This is New York, not Utah or Nevada” Schumer Cut Through Bureaucratic Red Tape To Bring Feds To Meeting with Madison County Leaders Late Thursday Senator Criticizes Bureau of Indian Affairs For Applying Outdated and Inappropriate Model for Mohawk Valley

After meeting with Oneida County leaders yesterday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer blasted the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for not giving greater weight to the unique situation in the Mohawk Valley. Schumer said instead of creating new criteria for the Oneida Nation land-into-trust application, BIA is taking a model designed for sparsely populated areas like the west and southwest and using it for a heavily-developed region Schumer aggressively lobbied BIA to meet with Madison County leaders late Thursday to discuss the land-in-trust application BIA and to hear directly from those impacted the most by this proposal.

“The Oneida Nation’s land-in-trust application is a major undertaking for BIA and they’re just not getting it,” Schumer said. “They’re not listening carefully enough and they’re not understanding completely enough how this application will impact the people of Madison and Oneida Counties. This is not some parcel of land in a sparsely populated area in the West. The whole idea of putting land into trust was not designed highly-developed areas like upstate New York. This is a proposal that, if approved, would create a patchwork of laws and turn into a very heavy burden for local and county governments -- something that the recent Supreme Court Sherrill decision specifically derided.”

Schumer, along with Madison County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Rocco DiVeronica, Madison County Planner Paul Miller, and Madison County Board of Supervisors Member Scott Henderson, met with BIA representatives late Thursday afternoon. The land in question covers over 17,000 acres scattered over Madison and Oneida Counties. On October 26, the BIA granted a two-month extension to the Counties and State of New York provide greater opportunity for all interested parties to provide comments and to conduct more complete analysis.

Because the impacts of this decision are so profound and far reaching, it is vital that the key decision makers hear directly from those who will be most affected. Local officials have expressed their frustration to me of not getting the information they need from the BIA about this process. Meetings like this one permit all stakeholders to most effectively express their concerns, will allow the BIA to gather essential information as well as hear from local leaders about what information they need regarding this profound, but poorly understood, process.”

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