New York's Mohawk Tribe recorded a major victory with the ruling to remove the 11-foot-high Hogansburg Dam from the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation, built in 1929.
"We look at this not only as reclaiming the resources and our land but also taking back this scar on our landscape that's a constant reminder of those days of exploitation," said Tony David, water resources manager for the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, which the Mohawk nation calls Akwesasne, according to AP.
The decision followed five years of struggle to decommission the hydroelectric dam, and its actual removal started in 2015.
Not only will the tribe recover its ancestral land, but lake sturgeons and eastern sand darters, on the list of threatened species, will not be blocked from the river anymore.
The area will be converted into an art and natural park with US$19 million that the tribe won in a previous settlement with GM, Alcoa and Reynolds for polluting the river with heavy metals and PCBs for years.
"We're transforming it from a dangerous no-go zone to someplace that's inviting and beautiful," said Eric Sunday, an apprentice in the cultural restoration program. "It creates opportunities to get people together, showcase skills, get more knowledge about our traditional ways and just appreciate nature."