Oral Arguments Heard in Appeal of Onondaga Land Rights Action
On October 12, the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals heard
oral arguments in the Onondaga Land Rights Action. Nearly 50 supporters, from
Syracuse, New York City and elsewhere joined Onondaga leaders Freida Jacques,
Jeanne Shenandoah and their lawyers in the courtroom. Onondaga General Counsel
Joe Heath spoke on behalf of Onondaga, arguing that there were significant
differences between this case and other Haudenosaunee cases which had been
dismissed. He asked the judges to give the Onondaga the opportunity to have
the facts of their case heard in court. The three judge panel asked questions
that indicated an openness to considering those differences. After the hearing,
the lawyers said it's very difficult to guess how the judges will rule based
on such hearings. After the hearing, Jeanne Shenandoah made it clear that
the Onondaga will continue to pursue justice regardless of the court's decision.
It could be as long as a year before a decision is released. See the links
below for media coverage, video and photos of the hearing and related
Supporters heard from the Onondaga leaders and attorneys
at an event at the American Indian Community House the evening before the
hearing and then again the following afternoon. In addition to pursuing their
case in court, the Onondaga are also working with Neighbors of the Onondaga
Nation and over 40 cosponsoring organizations to carry out the Two Row Wampum
Renewal Campaign to bring their case directly to the people of New York State.
The Onondaga Nation filed their historic Land Rights Action
on March 11, 2005, seeking that the federal courts acknowledge the illegal
taking of their land and seeking "justice, reconciliation and healing"
with their neighbors. Their case was dismissed on September 22, 2010. On February
28, leaders of the Onondaga Nation and Haudenosaunee Confederacy traveled
to Washington, DC to announce the filing of the Onondaga appeal of the Land
Rights Action. The Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign is an effort to take their
case to the people of New York State.
-writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper(s)
expressing (see suggested talking points)
-share this information with others
-spread word of the event on Facebook
NOON and Onondaga Nation Launch Two Row Wampum Renewal
NOON and the Onondaga Nation are developing The
Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign as a strategy to achieve the goals of
the Onondaga Land Rights Action, originally filed on March 11, 2005 and
dismissed in federal court on September 22, 2010. The Campaign which is
building daily includes a major statewide education and advocacy campaign
to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum, the first treaty
between the Haudenosaunee and European settlers. We seek to build a powerful
alliance of New Yorkers and Haudenosaunee to convince New York State to
live up to the Two Row and other treaties signed between the Haudenosaunee
and the US government. Learn more
and get involved!
Onondaga Nation Files Appeal of their Land Rights Action
On Tuesday, February 28, leaders of the Onondaga Nation and Haudenosaunee
Confederacy traveled to Washington, DC to announce the filing of the Onondaga
appeal of their historic Land Rights Action. To highlight the importance,
they brought with them the initial wampum belt commissioned by President
George Washington to mark the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua.
Federal Judge Dismisses Onondaga Land Rights Action
On September 23, 2010, over 50 NOON supporters joined with friends at the
Onondaga Nation to express our solidarity with the Onondaga in the wake
of the federal court dismissal of the Onondaga Land Rights Action and recommit
ourselves to the work of getting our nation to live up to the terms of the
treaties we have signed with the Onondaga. NOON will continue our discussions
about how best to convince our people to act justly. Read
More. See Photos
or video from the vigil. Read
Judge Kahn's decision here (pdf
file, 16 pp.)
Onondaga Land Rights Action Background
On March 11, 2005 the Onondaga Nation filed an historic Land Rights Action
in federal court in Syracuse. The following is from the Onondaga Nation
Communications Office. For further information about the land rights action,
see the Onondaga Nation website at http://www.onondaganation.org.
Also available: Onondaga Nation Announces
Land Rights Action (March 10, 2005).
In 2006 and again in 2010, NOON coordinated "Onondaga Land Rights
and Our Common Future," a collaborative educational series to offer
the community background information to understand the land rights action
and related issues. Both series are well documented, with video, transcripts
and reports available online. Check it
Specific Goals of the Onondaga Land Rights Action
To achieve a healing with our neighbors of the centuries of difficulties
caused by the illegal taking of Onondaga and Haudenosaunee lands.
To restore to the Onondaga Nation recognition of title to its aboriginal
To recover possession of portions of this territory from New York State
and willing sellers for use of the Onondaga people.
To secure a continuing source of revenue from the Nation's lands without
displacing persons from the land.
To secure revenues and land sufficient to achieve economic self-sufficiency,
An adequate supply of quality housing
A quality education system
Affordable, quality health care
Sound and sustainable agricultural programs
Programs for the proper care of elders and youth
A program for environmental restoration and protection
Employment opportunities for the Nation and its neighbors.
"To protect and conserve the natural resources within and affecting
the Nation's land, as a means of safeguarding all citizens' rights to
a natural, healthy and environment.
"To obtain basic recognition of the rights of the Onondaga Nation, including
those rights agreed upon in treaties with the United States.
"To secure Onondaga rights to hunt, fish and gather for subsistence
and for cultural needs.
"To secure adequate protection for the burial sites of our ancestors,
as well as other important sacred and archaeological sites.
"To resolve all ongoing conflicts with the state and federal governments,
particularly regarding taxation and jurisdiction.
"To provide for the growth and perpetuation of Onondaga culture, language,
laws, religion, and way of life."
A detailed, four-page information
flier (PDF) about the Onondaga Land Rights Action is available for download.
As residents of New York State we support the land rights action filed
by the Onondaga Nation against the State of New York on March 11, 2005.
We understand that no individual will be sued and that there is no action
requested against any individual property owners. Our homes are not in
We thank the Onondagas for their efforts to protect and heal the water,
land and air, which we all share, from the devastating effects of industrial
pollution of the environment.
We share these environmental concerns, and pledge our support for a
just resolution to this legal action. It is our intention to contribute
to making right the historic wrongs done to the Onondaga people.
We are hopeful that the outcome of this process will be a safer and
healthier environment for all of us, for our children and the generations