April 24, 2014 - A Statement in Support of the Onondaga Nation’s Quest for Justice


Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation

On April 15, the Onondaga filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, seeking the just and fair hearing that our United States courts failed to provide. We write to share our support for the Onondaga Nation's petition. We hope that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will fully consider this case, and in doing so, will recognize that the human and national rights of the Onondaga Nation have been violated repeatedly.

As they made clear in the opening of the Land Rights Action they filed here in Syracuse in 2005, the Onondaga seek healing for us all:

The Onondaga People wish to bring about a healing between themselves and all others who live in this region that has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time. The Nation and its people have a unique spiritual, cultural, and historic relationship with the land, which is embodied in Gayanashagowa, the Great Law of Peace. This relationship goes far beyond federal and state legal concepts of ownership, possession or legal rights. The people are one with the land, and consider themselves stewards of it. It is the duty of the Nation's leaders to work for a healing of this land, to protect it, and to pass it on to future generations. The Onondaga Nation brings this action on behalf of its people in the hope that it may hasten the process of reconciliation and bring lasting justice, peace, and respect among all who inhabit the area.

As a nation, the United States takes pride in providing justice for all. Yet, the Onondaga Land Rights case was dismissed at the federal district court level, by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, and then denied a hearing by the Supreme Court last October. This is a travesty of justice.

The Onondaga Nation seeks to continue its role as an environmental steward of the land and waters it once conserved for centuries.

In their OAS petition, the Onondaga demonstrate that the denial of any remedy for the taking of their land and treaty violations is a human rights violation under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and other international agreements. Any ruling by the commission will have important moral authority for us as citizens and for our governing institutions.

The ultimate purpose of the Onondaga Nation in the assertion of its land rights is to enable the Onondaga to maintain their culture and way of life, and to protect the earth and its environment for all inhabitants of Central New York. Their Land Rights Action has not been disruptive. The Onondaga are asking to continue the healing process between themselves and others who live in the region, and for a ruling that would allow the Onondaga Nation to continue its role as an environmental steward of the land and waters it once conserved for centuries.

In 2010, the Onondaga Nation released its "Vision for a Clean Onondaga Lake," which offers a picture of what the Onondaga want the lake to be. It describes a healthy body of water that has been cleaned of all the pollutants of the industrial era. There would be no restrictions on fish consumption and natural habitats would be fully restored. By contrast, current plans to "clean up" the lake leave the vast majority of pollutants in the lake bottom, and the upland sites of the now abandoned chemical factories, to be capped or buried by sediment over time. This leaves a grave and serious potential danger for future generations to address.

Other damages to the Onondaga include the Tully Valley salt mining that destroyed Onondaga Creek, once a pristine, sparkling trout stream that supported Onondaga life, providing among other things food, medicines and transportation. After New York state illegally took Onondaga land, it was desecrated time after time with no consideration for the future. If the U.S. courts had heard the merits of the Onondaga case and recognized Onondaga land rights, our two nations could have established a just and respectful framework in which to work together for environmental restoration and responsible economic development in Central New York. One positive example has been the Nation's leadership and support for the county and city's green infrastructure program. On the other hand we could be working on a full lake clean up, rather than Honeywell's limited effort currently underway.

The Onondaga have important lessons for our community, our nation and our world. Their teachings about our relationship with the natural world and our responsibility to leave a healthy world for future generations are vital. We encourage others to join us in supporting our Onondaga neighbors as they seek justice from the international community -- justice which has thus far been denied to them by our nation's courts.

What Can YOU Do?

This is a partial list of things you can do to support our Onondaga neighbors. what seems right for you, and get involved - everything counts!

  • Visit the Onondaga Nation web site at onondaganation.org

  • Read NOON's new booklet, “Nation to Nation” available at the Syracuse Peace Council

  • Invite NOON to your faith community/school/community organization

  • Attend a craft fair or public cultural event on the Onondaga Nation or other Native Craft venues

  • Get involved with NOON – you are welcome at our monthly meetings on the 2nd Tues. Contact Carol Baum, (315-472-5478315-472-5478 , carol@peacecouncil.net) or Sue Eiholzer, (315-492-2684315-492-2684 , rsue@twcny.rr.com) before the meeting.

  • Follow the NOON E-News (email rsue@twcny.rr.com to be placed on list serve) and attend or view movies, talks or events on Native issues listed there.

  • Write a letter to the editor or governmental leaders in support of the OAS petition

  • Speak up in every day conversation as you learn about the issues. Help to correct misconceptions, increase understanding and dispel fears.


May 5, 7:00-8:30pm, Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights Action Goes International, Westcott Community Center, 826 Euclid Avenue, Syracuse
Please join NOON for an educational event with a question and answer session about the Onondaga Nation’s petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The purpose of this event is to provide a forum for the Central New York community to learn more about this important step in the Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights Action. Media coverage and publicity of the April 15th press conference in Washington DC have generated community interest. A gathering to learn more and ask questions is an opportunity to inform and build community support for the Nation’s petition to the OAS.


Don’t lump all indigenous people together. Each nation or tribe has its own customs, history, language, spirituality and treaties. It is as inaccurate to discuss totem poles and teepees when discussing the arrival of the Pilgrims in the Northeast as using Swedish cultural examples when discussing Italy.

Kay Olan, Mohawk/Wolf Clan


What is The Skä*noñh - Great Law of Peace Center?

The development of this education center is a collaborative effort between the Onondaga Nation, Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse University, the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Onondaga Community College, Lemoyne College, and Empire State College. This project is organized to design a new narrative and programming for the site with greater emphasis on the Haudenosaunee perspective. Your input will help to inform what visitors to The Skä*noñh- Great Law of Peace Center will experience. Learn more about the Center at skanonhcenter.org

Community Survey for Skä·noñh - Great Law of Peace Center is in the process of collecting community input from a wide community of people about the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center. Below is a link and it would be a great help in the development of the site if you could take a few minutes to fill it out.


If you would like to be on the Great Law of Peace list serve, contact Phil Arnold at pparnold@syr.edu




May 1, 9:00 am, Ganondagan State Historic Site Opening Day. See what plants and animals are visible when spring finally makes its appearance, Visitors Center and longhouse open for tours, walk the beautiful trails, check out the construction site for the new Seneca Art & Culture Center. ganondagan.org/Events-Programs/Calendar


May 3, 9:30-11:30 am, Ganondagan State Historic Site third annual "I Love My Park" Day. Volunteers will help clean up the site, plant flowers, and have a fun time while doing it. Please register in advance at www.ptny.org/ilovemypark/register.shtml


May 10, Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm From the Earth Arts and Crafts Show, hosted by: the Onondaga Nation School PTS,, Onondaga Nation School (located on rte. 11a ), food ~ music friends - jewelry- sculptures- baskets -paintings – beadwork. Free admission – donations accepted – free extra parking available in the health center parking lot nearby


May 24, 9-5 with social at 6, Sunday May 25th, possible breakfast gathering, Doctrine of Christian Discovery: After Repudiation, What Next?, Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center, (formerly St Marie Among the Iroquois), 6680 Onondaga Lake Parkway, Liverpool, NY 13088, $30 registration fee includes lunch & light buffet. First annual conference in Onondaga Nation Territory, Syracuse, NY, (Immediately following the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, NYC). Contact Sue Eiholzer, rsue@twcny.rr.com or 315-492-2684315-492-2684  for additional information. Co-sponsors include: Onondaga Nation, Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, Onondaga Historical Association, Loretto Community (Denver, CO), Religion Department @ Syracuse University.

Registration deadline 5/1 to plan food accordingly. However, no one will be turned away at the door. Contact: Sandy Bigtree at sbigtree@syr.edu or 315-254-0288315-254-0288 


May 28, 7:30pm, Sierra Club, University United Methodist Church on East Genesee St. Aimee Clinkhammer, the Onondaga Lake Watershed Coordinator, will be presenting for discussion her update to the State of the Lake. This will be an informational meeting. It will present a wealth of information and background on current and future "cleanup" possibilities.


May 13
- NOON Steering Committee Meeting, 7-8:30 pm, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 E. Genesee St., Syracuse, open meeting. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend talking with Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff (315-472-5478315-472-5478 , carol@peacecouncil.net) or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (315-492-2684315-492-2684 , rsue@twcny.rr.com) before the meeting.

May 21 - Shaleshock CNY, 6 pm, Community Room, Onondaga Free Library. Meeting on local anti-hydrofracking efforts. Anyone interested in learning more about this organizing in CNY or to connect to these efforts is encouraged to attend. shaleshockcny.org/index.html

Doctrine of Discovery Study Group will not be meeting again until after the May 24/25 conference.


More information will be provided on these events as it becomes available.


May 18, Onondaga Lake Park's West Shore Trail Extension Opening.


June 21, 1-3 PM, Roots of Injustice, Seeds of Change Workshop, Skänoñh - Great Law of Peace Center, Syracuse, NY

une 28-29, 10 am- 6 pm, Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community Strawberry Festival, Fonda, NY


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