Oneida County legislature approves agreement between state and Oneida Nation

The Oneida County legislature has approved the land claim settlement reached earlier this month between the state and the Oneida Indian Nation. The final vote was 16 for and 13 against.

Governor Cuomo released the following statement Tuesday night after the Oneida County legislature approved the deal:

"I commend the Oneida County Legislature for voting to approve the agreement with the Oneida Indian Nation. This compact treats all parties with fairness and respect, provides the county and the state with a consistent source of revenue for the future and gives the Oneida Nation financial security. By working together, we put to an end the decades of litigation and vitriol that have previously strained relations between the Oneidas, its neighbors and the State of New York, and took a huge step toward shared prosperity."

The deal would guarantee the Oneidas exclusive territory for their Central New York casino in exchange for revenue payments to the state of around $50 million annually. It also would settle longstanding tax and land claim issues that have dogged the Oneida's relationship with their upstate neighbors.

Madison County lawmakers will vote on the issue Thursday at 10 a.m.

The state legislature, Department of the Interior and Attorney General also need to approve the deal.

Concerned neighbors at the meeting expressed their opposition to the proposal. "I am quite sure that a very large number of people have absolutely no quarrel with the Oneida Indians," said Dr. James Brod, who spoke during the meeting. "They have quarrel with people who are running off with tax money and not paying their fair share. That's what the quarrel is."

"It's not properly put forth," said Connie Collins, who opposes the proposal. "It hasn't been researched. It's been in the courts for over 20 years. And we wish they would make a legal decision, rather than a political decision."

Some lawmakers see the proposal as a booth to the local economy, while others see it as a potentially big problem. "We need economic development," said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente. "We can do much more with the revenue resource, in terms of partnering, in terms of infrastructure improvements that are necessary in this county. I think there's so much more we can do with this agreement than we can without it."

"There's 234,000 people in Oneida County," explained Legislator Chad Dennis. "And the Oneida Indian population is less than .5%. And they're going to have unlimited commercial development, and we're going to have to do all the maintenance."

(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)