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Oneida Indian Nation land-claim case continues in federal appeals court
June, 04th 2008

Lawyers for the Oneida Indian Nation, New York state and Oneida and Madison counties were in federal appeals court Tuesday arguing over the Nations ongoing land claim.

At the hearing in New York City, a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit heard the Nation argue it should get title to 250,000 acres of its ancestral land or some sort of cash settlement.

The decision may not come until the end of this year or early next year, said Oneida County assistant attorney Harris Samuels, who attended the hearing.

The arguments took about an hour, Samuels said.

A year ago, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn ruled that the Nation could not get title back for its land, but could get as much as $500 million in damages from the state because it was underpaid for the land two centuries ago.

New York state is arguing it shouldnt be liable for those damages.

Kahn also said Oneida and Madison counties were not liable for any of that money.

Attorneys for the counties were present to ensure that didnt change.

Madison County attorney John Campanie said he hadnt seen anything Tuesday that indicated the counties would become liable again.

If (Kahns) dismissal holds, we are out of this case in terms of that exposure, he said.

Most of the arguments centered on the state and its liabilities, Samuels and Campanie said.

The Nation declined to comment in depth, pointing instead to its court papers and issuing a brief statement.

All of the parties had an opportunity to present their arguments, and now we await the decision by the Second Circuit, the Nation said.

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