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Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Adopts Residency Ordinance

AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council signed Tribal Council Resolution #2019 – 28 on Wednesday, Ohiarihkó:wa/July 3, 2019, adopting a Residency Ordinance that was passed by tribal referendum onOhiarí:ha/June 1, 2019. Tribal members voted 493 in favor of the Tribal Council adopting the ordinance, with 217 votes in opposition and 28 votes voided. The Residency Ordinance establishes written laws governing the conditions under which non-tribal members may reside on tribal lands.

The law has been under discussion for years; with more than a dozen community meetings and an opinion poll that culminated in a formal survey under the direction of SUNY Potsdam’s Institute of Applied Research. SUNY Potsdam assisted in developing and distributing 13,641 surveys to all tribal members; which included questions provided by community members for members to consider.

“The overall health, safety and well-being of the community is a priority for the Tribal Council and we wanted to ensure that each member was provided a voice,” remarked Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. Chief Thompson noted, “Given the importance of this topic, a broad survey was conducted and the integrity of the survey’s findings were maintained and analyzed.”

The results of 1,204 completed surveys indicated that 72% of respondents favored the development of a residency law, which was drafted with further input from the membership and presented in Spring 2019 at three public meetings. Approximately 70% (69.4% actual) of tribal voters ultimately approved the Tribal Council adopting the Residency Ordinance in a tribal referendum held on Ohiarí:ha/June 1st.

“I want to thank tribal members for expressing their concerns for increased public safety, including the need to determine who can and cannot reside within the community,” shared Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. Chief Cook added, “I also want to thank those who participated in the lengthy consultation process and contributed to the ordinance’s development.”

Following the ordinance’s adoption, the Tribal Council will now move forward with its implementation through a callout for interested members to serve on an initial Residency Board. A callout will be posted for five board members who will be appointed to three-year concurrent terms. Future board members will be elected to staggered terms.

“Safeguarding the peace and safety of the community is an important responsibility and I encourage those interested in helping this effort to consider applying for the initial Residency Board,” shared Tribal Chief Michael Conners.

The role of the initial Residency Board is to develop the by-laws and procedures, forms and applications, as well as permits needed to fully implement the ordinance. No Residency permits will be issued until the board is seated and the appropriate measures have been taken, including community educational meetings on the ordinance’s requirement and permit process.

To view the Tribal Residency Ordinance, please visit the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s website at www.srmt-nsn.gov. You can locate additional information on the Tribal Members Portal; including the survey results and analysis, as well as other reports and presentations previously provided on residency.

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