U.S. Department of the InteriorDOI News Header
Office of the Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs
February 22, 2008
Nedra Darling

Fact Sheet Concerning the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Oneida Indian Nation of New York's Land-Into-Trust Application

  • In March 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court identified the Department’s land-into-trust process under 25 U.S.C. § 465 as the “proper avenue” for the Oneida Indian Nation (Nation) to reestablish tribal sovereignty over land in tribal ownership. The Supreme Court ruled in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York that the Nation cannot, without placing the land in trust, assert tribal sovereignty over land within the Oneida reservation that the Nation has reacquired from willing sellers.
  • In April 2005, the Nation submitted an application to the Department under 25 U.S.C. § 465 requesting that the United States take into trust 440 parcels comprising 17,370 acres located in Madison and Oneida Counties, New York. The application includes the land on which the Nation’s Turning Stone Resort & Casino is situated. In its application, the Nation proposed no change in the current land uses.
  • On February 22, 2008, the Department issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Nation’s application, totaling over 6,000 pages. The FEIS is the culmination of a public review process that spanned over two years, including a public informational meeting and four public hearings. The Department reviewed more than 1,000 pages of testimony and written comments on the Draft EIS.
  • The Department through the entire process endeavored to balance the needs and interests of the Nation and the State and local governments. In so doing, the Department considered nine alternatives covering the full range of possible outcomes, including taking all 17,370 acres into trust and taking no land into trust.
  • The FEIS identifies the Department’s Preferred Alternative, which proposes to acquire 13,086 acres in trust. The Department will issue its final decision on the application no sooner than March 25, 2008.
  • The Preferred Alternative represents a balanced action. The Preferred Alternative focuses on the current and near term needs of the Nation to reestablish a sovereign homeland while minimizing an alternating pattern of Nation and State/local government jurisdiction (i.e., checkerboarding) by establishing a more compact and contiguous trust land grouping.
  • The Preferred Alternative selected by the Department includes approximately 1.0% of the land area in each of the two counties.
  • Throughout the process, the Department encouraged the parties to negotiate a mutually beneficial solution and will continue to do so with respect to issues not addressed by this action.


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