Press-Republican

Local News

December 9, 2011

Land-reclamation arrest

(Continued)

MALONE — He answered Main's questions in one-word responses but did not speak otherwise.

The incident allegedly occurred on March 2, 2009, when Jock allegedly took over the 240 acres plus another 800 acres then reportedly cut down a large group of trees.

The parcel now has a dirt path several hundred yards long, and a trailer that houses a small cigarette shop has been placed there, as well as a large Iroquois flag.

According to documents filed with the County Clerk's Office dating back to 1873, there have been seven property owners on the land in question.

POSSIBLE BLESSING

But the Mohawks say the Treaty of 1796 between the federal government, New York state and the Mohawks established the boundaries of the St. Regis Mohawk reservation, and the boundaries have never been legally altered since.

They contend that land set aside in the treaty for Mohawks still belongs to the Mohawk people, whether it has been sold or deeded to anyone else since the agreement was ratified.

But at least two other treaties the State Legislature ratified since then have allowed non-Indians to buy up parcels on the designated reservation.

That has led to the long-standing and continuing federal land-claims lawsuit the Mohawks brought against New York state, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties and the municipalities established since then — the towns of Massena, Brasher, Fort Covington and Bombay.

"This could be a blessing in disguise," White said about her client's indictment and arrest.

"This is about our aboriginal teachings; that we are the Mohawk people, the caretakers of our mother, the Earth," she said. "That is the real issue.

"The court and the District Attorney of Franklin County are using the courts to criminalize one individual for theft. But Roger Jock is not the issue.

"Roger puts it best: 'We're not claiming anything; we're reclaiming what is ours,'" White said. "Legal title remains with the aboriginal people of the Mohawk lands. It was never legally transferred from the Mohawk people."

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