PLATTSBURGH, N.Y.--()--The Turtle Island Trust today filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court challenging the legality of Clinton County’s foreclosure actions against several parcels of land located in the town of Altona. Eleven of these parcels are being offered for sale by Clinton County in an online auction scheduled to take place this Friday, November 30 at 9:30 a.m.
Anyone considering bidding in the County’s online auction is warned that he or she will automatically become a party to the Trust's lawsuit against Clinton County should he or she submit a winning bid. Potential bidders should also take note that Clinton County is no longer able to convey good title to any of the parcels being offered for auction. The prevailing bidder therefore risks losing his or her money to the County.
The Turtle Island Trust is a charitable organization that supports efforts by Native American communities to preserve, protect, and promote their cultural, religious, social, and economic well-being. The Trust was founded in 1977 pursuant to a settlement negotiated between then-New York Secretary of State Mario Cuomo and the Mohawks of the Ganienkeh Council Fire.
The Trust held the deeds to several parcels of land in the Town of Altona forming the Ganienkeh Mohawk Community until Clinton County foreclosed upon them for non-payment of property taxes. As a private charitable foundation, however, the Trust is absolutely exempt from property taxation under New York state law, just as are schools, churches, museums and Indian reservation lands. Clinton County’s attempts to levy property taxes and foreclose against the property of a charitable trust are unprecedented in American history and without any basis in law. The Trust and its legal team are therefore confident that the State Supreme Court will declare the County's foreclosure actions null and void and restore the Trust’s deeds to its parcels in Altona.
For more information please contact: Rev. Don Washburn, Chair, Turtle Island Trust (518) 256-1957; Gare A. Smith, Foley Hoag LLP, (202) 256-2291; Vivek Krishnamurthy, Foley Hoag LLP, (202) 372-5508; Lillian Anderson-Duffy, Esq., (518) 651-1946.