City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York
|City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York|
|Argued January 11, 2005
Decided March 29, 2005
|Full case name||City of Sherrill, New York v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, et al.|
|Citations||544 U.S. 197 (more)
125 S. Ct. 1478, 161 L. Ed. 2d 386
|Prior history||Oneida Indian Nation v. City of Sherrill, 337 F.3d 139 (2d Cir. N.Y. 2003)|
|Subsequent history||Rehearing denied, 544 U.S. 1057 (2005), on remand sub nom. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Madison Cnty., 401 F. Supp. 2d 219 (N.D.N.Y. 2005), motion to amend denied, 235 F.R.D. 559 (N.D.N.Y. 2006), aff'd, 605 F.3d 149 (2nd Cir. 2010), cert. granted, 131 S. Ct. 459 (2010), vacated and remanded sub nom. Madison Cnty. v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y., 131 S. Ct. 704 (2011) (per curiam)|
|Reversed and remanded. Held that repurchase of traditional tribal lands did not restore tribal sovereignty to that land.|
|Majority||Ginsburg, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Breyer|
|25 U.S.C. 465|
City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, 544 U.S. 197 (2005), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that repurchase of traditional tribal lands did not restore tribal sovereignty to that land.
Historical tribal background
The Oneida Indian Nation originally lived on about 6,000,000 acres (24,000 km2) in central New York. In 1788, the state of New York and the tribe entered into a treaty where the tribe ceded all but 300,000 acres (1,200 km2) to the state and kept the 300,000 as their reservation. Two years later, the United States Congress passed the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act, prohibiting the sale of tribal lands without the permission and ratification of the federal government.
In violation of that and subsequent laws to protect the tribes, the state of New York continued to purchase tribal land and remove tribes to western lands, such as the part of the Oneida people who became the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin; and the Stockbridge-Munsee and the Brothertown Indians, who also moved from land they owned in New York to Wisconsin. By 1920, the tribe had only 32 acres (130,000 m2).
In 1997 and 1998, the tribe purchased land on the open market that had been part of their original reservation. The city of Sherrill sought to impose property taxes on the land, and the tribe maintained that, as tribal lands, the property was tax-exempt. A similar case was filed in Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Madison Cnty., 401 F. Supp. 2d 219 (N.D.N.Y. 2005).
The Oneida Nation sought equitable relief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York and the trial court enjoined the city of Sherrill and Madison County, New York from taxing the tribal property.
Both the city of Sherrill and Madison County appealed the decision to the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. The Circuit Court affirmed. The defendants appealed again and the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari.
Opinion of the Court
Without overturning the Second Circuit's finding that the lands qualified as Indian Territory, Justice Ginsburg held that the Oneida purchase of the land did not revive the tribal sovereignty over the land. Because there was a period of about 200 years during which the tribe had allegedly not sought to regain title, the Court opined that it was too long out of Oneida Nation control to reassert their tribal immunity over those lands as an automatic mechanism.
In addition, since non-Indians now lived on the land, it would pose problems for those people. Justice Ginsburg concluded that the proper way for the Oneida Nation to reassert its immunity over those re-acquired lands was to place the land in US trust under the Department of the Interior, as authorized by the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Justice Ginsburg reasoned that the mechanisms behind the IRA would address issues of checker-board jurisdictions and other pertinent issues.
Sherrill held only that the local governments could tax OIN-owned property that was part of the original reservation but reacquired on the open market, not that the local governments could collect. In 2010, the Second Circuit held that tribal sovereign immunity barred a tax foreclosure suit against the tribe for unpaid taxes. As urged by concurring judges José A. Cabranes and Peter W. Hall, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari. Following a tribal declaration and ordinance waiving sovereign immunity, the Court vacated and remanded.
- Oneida Indian Nation of New York State v. Oneida County (1974)
- Oneida County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State (1985)
- Cayuga Indian Nation of N.Y. v. Pataki (2d Cir. 2005)
- City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation, 544 U.S. 197 (2005)
- Oneida Indian Nation, et al. v. City of Sherrill, et al., 145 F.Supp.2d 226 (N.D.N.Y. 2001).
- Oneida Indian Nation v. Madison County, 145 F.Supp.2d 268 (N.D.N.Y. 2001).
- Oneida Indian Nation, et al. v. City of Sherrill, et al., 337 F.3d 139 (2d Cir. N.Y. 2003).
- Oneida Indian Nation of New York v. Madison County, Oneida County, N.Y., 605 F.3d 149 (2d Cir. 2010).
- Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, 131 S. Ct. 459 (2010).
- Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York, 131 S. Ct. 704 (mem).
- Derrick Braaten, "The Right To Be Heard In City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation: Equity and the Sound of Silence", 25 Law & Inequality 227 (2007).
- Matthew L.M. Fletcher, "The Supreme Court’s Indian Problem", 59 Hastings L.J. 579 (2007).
- Kathryn E. Fort, "The New Laches: Creating Title Where None Existed," 16 Geo. Mason L. Rev. 357 (2009)
- Kathryn E. Fort, "Disruption and Impossibility: The Unfortunate Resolution of the Modern Iroquois Land Claims", 11 Wyo. L. Rev. 375 (2011).
- Sarah Krakoff, " 'City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York': A Regretful Postscript to the Taxation Chapter, in 'Cohen’s Handbook of Federal Indian Law'", 41 Tulsa L. Rev. 5 (2005).
- Ezra Rosser, "Protecting Non-Indians from Harm: The Property Consequences of Indians", 87 Ore. L. Rev. 175 (2008).
- George C. Shattuck, The Oneida Land Claims: A Legal History (1991).
- Patrick W. Wandres, "Indian Land Claims, Sherrill and the Impending Legacy of the Doctrine of Laches," 31 Am. Indian L. Rev. 131 (2006).