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Land Claim History

  • Feb. 25, 1789 - New York State and Cayuga Indians establish a 64,000 acre reservation plus two other small tracts referred to as "Rychman Square Mile" and "Cayuga Ferry Square Mile".  Governor George Clinton pays $500 in silver, agrees to pay another $1,625 on June 1st and annuity of $500 thereafter.
  • June 22, 1790 -Clinton and the Cayugas confirm the treaty, New York pay the first $500 annuity and an additional $1,000 as a benevolence.
  • 1790 - Indian Trace and Non-Intercourse Act forbids states to make treaties with Indians. 
  • Oct. 12, 1793 - Cayuga Sachem Fish Carrier (cheif of cheifs), tells Israel Chapin Sr., United States agent to the Six Nations, that the Cayugas will sell their land.
  • Nov. 11, 1794 - President George Washington concludes a treaty with the Six Nations calling for free access of roads, free use of waterways, peace and friendship, payment of $10,000 on the spot and $4,500 yearly to purchase clothing, domestic animals and implements of husbandry.
  • April 6, 1795 - Israel Chapin Jr. is appointed to succeed his father, who died in early March, as "superintendent of the Six Nations.".  He is charged with promoting friendship and to "protect the trible from injury".
  • April 9, 1795 - Clinton and two others are appointed by the state legislature as agents to work out annuities with the Cayuga, Oneida and Onondaga Indians.  Another legislature act authorizes the governor or any of his agents to "treat and agree with any Indian tribe or tribes for purchase of their land in northern New York.".  The land is valued at 50 cents an acre, and is to be dvided into lots of not more than 250 acres of settlement.
  • June 13, 1795 - Chapin Jr. writes to Timothy Pickering, Secretary of war, saying interpreter Jasper Parish is now at Buffalo Creek to bring the state and the Cayugas and Onondagas together to make a treaty.
  • June 16, 1795 - William Bradford, U.S. Attorney General, tells Pickering that "No sale of land by any Indian tribe was valid unless it was entered into by the federal government.".
  • July 27, 1795 - New York treaty with Cayugas gives up lands bordering Cayuga Lake except two square miles where Union Springs is located, and one square mile known as the "Mine Reservation, " also in Cayuga County.  The Cayugas also give up lands at Secawyace.  New York agrees to pay an annuity of $1,8000 in addition to the previously agreed $500.  Parish signs as interpreter, Chapin Jr. signs, but there is no indication in what capacity.  The state receives $247,609.33 more than it pays.
  • July 29, 1795 - Pickering writes, on behalf of Washington, to Chapin: "I have now to instruct you, besides giving no countenance to this unlawful design of the New York Commissioner...you are to tell those tribes of Indians that any bargain they make at such a treaty will be void.".
  • July 31, 1795 - Chapin Jr. writes Pickering, saying he has not received Pickering's letters until after he had returned from the treaty signing.  "I have endeavored not to interfere in the business as I supposed the commissioners were fully authorized by the United States...".  Chapin Jr. says he attended as a private individual only and has signed as a witness of signatures.
  • Aug. 26, 1795 - Pickering replied to Chapin Jr. "The law declares such purchases from the Indians as those commissioners have made are invalid.".
  • Sept. 7, 1795 - Chapin Jr. reports complaints about the land sale.  Cayugas on the reservation claim "those who sold were Canadian Indians" and there was not enough land left to meet their needs.
  • Nov. 1, 1796 - Simeon Dewitt, state surveyor general, begins sale of Cayuga Reservation land.
  • Aug. 28, 1799 - Jay writes to Chapin Jr. that there is a dissident group of Cayugas at the time of the sale.  If the entire tribe will now consent, he will be willing to buy from them at a fair price.
  • Feb. 26, 1807 - Cayugas cede all remaining land to New York, some 3,200 acres for $4,800 - $1.50 an acre.  Parish, appointed to succeed Chapin Jr., signs as interpreter and witness.
  • Dec. 10, 1818 - Department Secretary Arch'd Campbell certifies the 1807 treaty agrees with the original and enters it in state records.
  • 1980 - Cayuga Indians of New York and the Seneca Indians of Oklahoma, file suit against the state of New York and the landowners.  They are seeking to get parts of Cayuga and Seneca counties returned to them along with $350 million.  They also want the current landowners evicted.
  • Oct. 1993 - State official tell local leaders and land owners that no one will be forced off their property.  Robert Balson, an attorney with the state Office of Indian Affairs, met with local leaders and land owners and assures then no land will be taken and any land involved in a settlement with the Cayuga Nation will come from willing sellers who receive fair compensation.
  • March 1996 - After numerous meetings, court appearances and failed negotiations, a mediator is found to reach settlement in Indian land claim case.  Lawyers for all four governments involved in the case have agreed that Howard Bellman of Madison, Wisconsin, is an acceptable choice for mediator.
  • Sept. 1996 - Mediation is stalled when both sides are forced to begin looking for new lawyers.  Allen van Gestal who was representing the state and the counties, is taking a position on the Massachusetts Supreme Court and leaves the case effective Sept. 30, 1996.  Arthur J. Gajarsa, who has successfully represented the Indians, was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a federal appeals judge.  His confirmation is on hold until after the presidential election.