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Legal spat on Indian reservation

Alabama, N.Y. -- A gas mart and smoke shop on the Tonawanda Indian Reservation was closed Friday after a heated dispute brought dozens of police to the scene Thursday.

Family members are disputing the rights to the Arrowhawk Gas Mart and Smoke Shop.

"The sheriff's, they took me up to my apartment and I had to pack all my possessions," said Thomas Peters, who lives on the property. "I grew up in this house and they're moving me out of my own home here."

Batavia Judge Robert Noonan gave control of the property to Corinne Thompson, Peters' niece.

Peters told 13WHAM he has been running the business for his mother. Peters said his mother owns the property, and his family has been on the reservation since the 1950's.

"This is sovereign land here," said Peters. "Judge Noonan has no right to make any decisions on this reservation at all."

Thompson believes she owns the property based on her father's will. Peters said it was never his brother's to give away.

The Genesee County Sheriff Gary Maha was at the reservation Thursday and said they were trying to keep the peace.

"These are very tense situations," said Sheriff Maha. "You don't know if there are firearms involved or what could be involved."

The Tonawanda chiefs were able to bring a temporary compromise to the family Thursday.

Peters and his niece Thompson are taking the issue to appellate court next week for a hearing.

Judge Noonan told 13WHAM he cannot speak on the issue.

13WHAM tried to get Thompson's side of the story, but she refused to speak with us.

Arrowhawk Gas Mart and Smoke Shop will be back open next week.

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Washington Times