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Upstate Citizens for Equality

The Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE) was a citizen's rights group based in Verona, New York that opposes the Indian Land Claim and what they see as flawed Federal Indian Policy. UCE currently has three chapters with a combined membership of around 10,000.


Legal actionsEdit

In the past, the group has organized rallies at the Oneida Indian Nation's gas stations and casino. UCE and some individual members have undertaken legal actions to further UCE's goals, including challenges to the Oneidas' land claim.[note 1] UCE has also challenged the validity of the tribal-state compact between the Oneidas and New York State that Turning Stone Casino & Resort operates under.[note 2] UCE and some individual member have also challenged the application of the Oneida Indian Nation to have land taken into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.[note 3] Judge Kahn dismissed UCE's complaint, including the failed theory that the IRA is unconstitutional, on the basis of longstanding and settled law on this issue.[1] UCE appealed the dismissal to the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals, where the decision was affirmed. Upstate Citizens for Equality v. United States, No. 15-1688 (2d Cir. 2016).


It has been reported that every Native Nation located in the vicinity of New York State and other tribes represented by the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) views Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE) as an anti-Indian hate group.[2] The publication made this report was published in is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, though the Oneidas condemned UCE long before purchasing the paper.[3] The Oneida Indian Nation has had the most contact with this organization. The Oneidas have been the most critical of UCE and its members. The Oneidas have used the media, courts, and other venues as noted above to advance its opposition. USET currently, and at the time of the adoption of this resolution was led by a representative of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York elected by the 24 Native Nation representatives.[4] The Oneida Nation is currently in litigation with UCE as noted above. The UCE has charged the Oneida Nation with making accusations of racism in order to stifle the voice of those who oppose its policies.[5] Non-Indians have also charged UCE members as being a group of racists.[6] However, UCE denies such accusations.[7]

In December 2006, UCE President David Vickers made a comment while speaking on a Syracuse, NY radio program that sparked allegations of racism. Mr. Vickers and WSYR talk show host Jim Reith were discussing the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear an appeal from the New York State Court Appeals in Peterman v Pataki.[8] The following is a snippet of the dialog that transpired during that show:

We'll have to follow the legal channels," Vickers said. "We live in a modern society. These people can't be shot, so we have to try to do what we can legally."

Reith interrupted, "Not that you would want them shot."

"No, of course not," Vickers said. "But the kind of lawlessness that's taking place is absurd, and previous generations would not have tolerated their leadership doing things like this."[9]

The National Congress of American Indians, which is made up of elected representatives of the overwhelming majority of Indian tribes, has also condemned the UCE as a hate group and racist, comparing them to David Duke.[10]

"Gone is the obvious snarl of yesteryear; and no one wants to be too quick with accusations of racism, but is perhaps now the noose simply hiding behind a smile of civility and the claim of "nothing personal?" Ever since David Duke replaced his white robes for the legitimate veneer of suit and tie, organizations taking aim at peoples of color have become increasingly sophisticated. They are now much more cleverly attuned to image and language.

It may not be racist in the sense of a KKK mob burning your house and lynching your men, but the clear outright call for the eradication of all the rights your ancestors retained for you, of everything that gives you identity and legal recognition, everything that gives your children and future generations an opportunity at economic justice in America, this is clearly a hostile intention, directed specifically at the destruction of Indian governments and, therefore, at the very existence of our peoples."


  1. ^ Refer to the Oneida Indian Nation page for details concerning the land claim
  2. ^ For more information regarding the tribal-state compact, see Turning Stone Casino & Resort page.
  3. ^ For more information concerning the land-trust application challenge refer to the Oneida Indian Nation page.


External linksEdit