Seneca Nation Scores Court Victory Against New York State in Thruway Litigation

Second Circuit Court of Appeals upholds District Court ruling denying State’s attempt to dismiss Seneca lawsuit

January 26, 2023 – ALLEGANY TERRITORY, SALAMANCA, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation scored an important legal victory over New York State in federal court today.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision rejecting the State’s attempt to dismiss the Nation’s lawsuit, filed in 2018, over ongoing violations of federal law related to the continued occupation of the New York State Thruway on the Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory. The Court’s decision upholds an earlier United States District Court decision which denied the State’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. issued the following statement:

“After fighting New York’s overreaching actions for decades, on the Thruway and other issues, this is an important victory. Our arguments on behalf of our people deserve to be heard in court. The Thruway is a 300-acre scar on our Cattaraugus Territory that New York State inflicted on our people without proper authorization from the Department of Interior or in compliance with the promises made to us by treaty. We intend to make sure that State officials finally comply with federal law for this invasion of our land.”

Grounds for this case originate in 1954, when the Nation was pressured to grant an easement for a thruway to be constructed over about 300 acres of its Cattaraugus Reservation, which it has always owned and occupied as a federal Indian Reservation. Land easements on Indian Reservations require federal approval to be deemed valid, but New York State did not take action to get approval from the Department of Interior to construct the thruway.

View copy of today’s Court decision HERE