Will not approve tribal settlement agreement with former N.Y. governor David Paterson

The federal government is not going to approve the land claim settlement that aims to bring an Indian casino to New York’s Catskills Mountains.

According to an internal memo obtained by the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., the Sullivan County proposal was dead on arrival at the U.S. Department of Interior.

Don B. Miller, an attorney for the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians - the Wisconsin tribe that signed the agreement with former Gov. David Paterson - informed the tribe last month that “such a settlement is not viable” because of concerns expressed by Interior and the Department of Justice about the legitimacy of the land claim and its legality absent the approval of Congress.

After months of secret negotiations, Paterson reached a deal where the tribe agreed to give up disputed lands in upstate New York in exchange for the right to build the off-reservation casino in the Town of Thompson.

But tribal leaders and several local government and union officials traveled to Washington earlier this month were told that the project would not be approved, sources told the Herald-Record.

Federal authorities officially have taken no action yet.

A Stockbridge-Munsee spokeswoman said Monday the tribe has requested a meeting with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.