Tribal title can only be extinguished by federal, not state, law

In a reaffirmation of longstanding doctrine, a federal court in New York has applied the Trade and Intercourse Act of 1790, as amended, 25 U.S.C. §177 (the “Nonintercourse Act”), to hold that the title to land of the Canadian St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians retains title to certain lands in the state of New York since the transfer of those lands from the tribe to the state of New York was never ratified by Congress as required by the Nonintercourse Act. Canadian St. Regis Band of Mohawk Indians v. New York, 2022 WL 768669 (N.D. N.Y. 2022). The court emphasized that retention of title does not necessarily mean that the tribe has recourse to any particular remedy such as damages or ejectment; rights and remedies, the court noted, as separate. Other cases have appeared to hold (or have held) that Indian nations in New York may hold bare title to land that is currently possessed by non-Indians while those non-Indians have the only use rights in the land. It is nevertheless striking for the court to reaffirm that tribal title cannot be taken by states under federal law unless federal action makes it so.
See also: Tribal Property