Wampsville, NY (WIBX) - After a traditional tribal ceremony in Wampsville this morning, Governor Paterson and other Stockville County officials signed an agreement to end a long standing land claim lawsuit, paving the way for a Wisconsin based Native American tribe to reclaim their ancestral lands in New York.

The agreement will officially end the on-going lawsuit between the Band of Mohican tribe and the State, and allow for the construction of a casino in the Catskills--estimated to be valued at $700 million dollars. The land the Mohican tribe will soon own is less than 2 acres. Paterson said, "The Stockbridge-Munsee tribe will now settle decades old land they claimed that was initiated in 1986 of 23-thousand acres, and in addition they will be awarded the use of 1.18 acres of land right here in the Town of Stockville. And in addition to that, they will also replace the 23-thousand acres that they have settled with 330 acres in Sullivan County [Wisconsin] that's owned by them at this point. And this will settle really what has been 24 years of conflict."

President of the Native American tribe, Kimberley Vele said the ceremonial event in Wampsville signifies a bitter-sweet return home where her people lived for thousands of years saying, "Although this day is celebration, there's melancholy to finally give up something we have held for generations. And that is the hope for a return to our aboriginal territory here in New York where the waters are never still, where we made our homes, where we raised our families and were we buried our ancestors."

The next steps to finalize the deal is to get approval from the U.S. Department of Interior and officials with the case say the contract could face legal challenges from environmental groups or other Indian tribes. Paterson said during the ceremony that plans for the Casino will be announced in Sullivan County.

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