May 2017 - Onondaga Nation's Sacred Lake



         Onondaga Nation's Sacred Lake


The Onondaga Nation, supported by NOON and others, has long maintained that the cleanup of Onondaga Lake is far from adequate. But these voices have had little impact on the forward movement to put this Superfund site behind us.

Governor Cuomo has
announced that the lake revitalization has been completed ahead of schedule.

With little public notice an Open House was held at the Honeywell Visitors Center last month to present information on plans for restoration around the lake. Notice was published in a DEC Bulletin just three days before this event. Joe Heath, Onondaga Nation's lawyer, has stated the plan “is close to 100 pages and it's somewhat technical. They've been negotiating this for 10 years, and then to give the public one-one-hundredth of the time it took to generate the thing doesn't respect public input." It “makes little mention of the Onondaga Nation or its cultural losses.” “How do you put a dollar sign on the loss of a sacred lake?" Heath asked. "The leadership of the nation was not willing to put a dollar amount on a sacred loss."

A Syracuse's Post Standard Editorial on April 25 addressed the issue of the short notice.

It took a century to turn Onondaga Lake into the nation's most polluted water body. It took decades to hold the industrial polluters to account and to engineer plans for cleaning up the toxic mess. It took 10 years for the federal and state governments to come up with a plan to "compensate" the residents of Syracuse, Onondaga County and the Onondaga Nation for their inability to enjoy the lake or use it for fishing, recreation or spiritual activities.

So, after all this time, why is the public getting the bum's rush?


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New York state Department of Environmental Conservation dropped their 73-page damage assessment/restoration proposal  around 3 p.m. Monday. Theone and only public meeting on the matter - an "open house" -- is scheduled for 4 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, 2017, at the Honeywell Visitors Center on the west side of the lake.”

Although the Governor has directed the DEC to schedule three additional public information sessions between now and the June 2 deadline for comment, it is not certain when they will happen of how much notice the public will receive.


Proposal for projects restoring wildlife habitat and recreation on Onondaga Lake

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) are considering a series of projects to restore and protect wildlife habitat and water quality and increase recreational opportunities at Onondaga Lake, as outlined in a draft restoration plan and environmental assessment released today for public comment through June 2, 2017. The draft plan may be found at

For decades, mercury and other hazardous substances were released into Onondaga Lake and its tributaries and uplands. Due to this industrial pollution, Onondaga Lake was designated a Superfund site in 1994, launching a comprehensive remediation of the Lake and additional sites in the area, and through various court proceedings, the responsible parties must now also pay for the damages to natural resources this contamination has caused.

As part of the Onondaga Lake natural resource damage assessment and restoration process, the Service and NYSDEC assessed contaminant-related injuries to natural resources such as waterfowl and turtles, and quantified the lost use of natural resources to the public, such as fishing. The agencies then solicited restoration project ideas from stakeholders to identify the types and scale of restoration needed to compensate for those injuries. The ultimate goal of this process is to replace, restore, rehabilitate, or acquire the equivalent of injured natural resources and resource services lost due to the release of hazardous substances—at no cost to the taxpayer.

The agencies analyze 20 restoration projects in the draft restoration plan and environmental assessment. These projects, in total, include the following benefits:

  • Extension of the Erie Canalway Trail from Camillus to the Loop the Lake Trail (3.2 miles) and from the Honeywell Visitor Center to Harbor Brook (1.2 miles);

  • Preservation, habitat restoration and public access to over 1,400 acres along Ninemile and Onondaga Creeks in the Onondaga Lake watershed, including public fishing rights and parking areas;

  • Installation of structures within over 275 acres of Onondaga Lake to provide habitat for fish, amphibians and invertebrates;

  • Fifteen years of funding for the identification and removal of invasive species within about 1,700 acres of wetlands, lake/river littoral zone and riparian habitat;

  • Restoration of wetland and fish habitat at Onondaga County parklands;

  • 100 acres of warm season grassland restoration;

  • Deepwater fishing pier on Onondaga Lake;

  • Enhancement of jetties at the Onondaga Lake outlet to improve access for all;

  • Boat launch to be developed along the Seneca River;

  • Transfer of the Honeywell Visitor Center to a public agency;

  • Future Restoration Projects Fund.

The agencies are soliciting comments on this draft plan through June 2, 2017. Comments may be submitted by mail to Anne Secord, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, New York 13045 and by email to Written comments were accepted at a Public Open House, to be held at the Honeywell Visitor Center (280 Restoration Way, Syracuse, New York) on April 27, 2017 from 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM.

Representatives from the Service and DEC will be on hand at the Public Open House to explain the natural resource damage assessment and restoration process, and the draft plan and environmental assessment. After the comment period closes, feedback will be closely reviewed and any necessary changes made to a final document identifying the chosen restoration.

Under federal law, federal and state agencies and Native American tribes are authorized to act as trustees on behalf of the public for natural resources they own, manage or control. In this role, trustees assess and recover damages or implement restoration projects to compensate for injuries to natural resources due to hazardous substance releases (e.g. mercury).The natural resource damage assessment regulations encourage the participation of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) in the assessment process, and Honeywell agreed to cooperatively assess natural resource damages and identify restoration projects at Onondaga Lake with the trustees. Read more information on this process at


Fish biologist, Dr. Neil Ringler is making the case for the restoration of Onondaga Lake's native species through scientific experiments.

Onondaga Lake Fish signs do no imply that the clean up is sufficient.

PLEASE NOTE: The agencies are soliciting comments on this draft plan through June 2, 2017. They can be submitted by mail to Anne Secord, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 3817 Luker Road, Cortland, New York 13045 and by email to Written comments will presumably be accepted at any additional Public Open House as they were at the one held on April 27th.



NOON acknowledges that we are on the territory of the Onondaga Nation, counsel fire of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

We are thankful for their stewardship of our environment.



What's In A Name? Spring Plant Id Walk, Sunday, May 7, 10-11:30 am, Ganondagan State Historical Site, Victor, NY. Ever wonder about the plants growing along the Earth is our Mother trail? It's a perfect time to join Kim Burkard, herbalist and life-long plant lover to learn the names and uses of many of the green plants and wildflowers found there. Meet at the Seneca Art & Culture Center at 9:45. Wear sturdy footwear and bring your camera! Free with admission to the Center. Enjoy the exhibits after the walk.

Ganonda-JAM Open Mic, June 1, 6:30 pm - 9 pm, Seneca Art & Culture Center Auditorium, Ganondagan State Historical Site, Victor, NY. Free and open to the public

Heritage Day, Saturday, June 3, 2017, Seneca Iroquois National Museum, 814 Broad St, Salamanca, NY. Free admission. Details.

SENECA BARK LONGHOUSE at GANONDAGAN STATE HISTORICAL SITE IS OPEN! Now through October 31. You can further your understanding of the Seneca and Haudenosaunee - and their message of peace - from a comprehensive cultural, historical, and environmentalperspective. Tour the full-size replica of the 17th-century Seneca Bark Longhouse, walk miles of self-guided trails, climb the mesa where a huge palisaded granary stored thousands of bushels of corn and then visit the Seneca Art & Culture Center.

Walking the Steel: From Girder to Ground Zero Exhibit, April 1 - November 30, 2017, Iroquois Indian Museum, Howes Cave, NY. Artwork, artifacts, photographs, and audio recollections interprets the long-standing cultural and occupational tradition of iron working and its prominent role in Iroquois communities. Also explores the response to 9-11 by these individuals who had no national obligation to aid in the recovery but selflessly did (in some cases at immense personal cost), and concludes with the Haudenosaunee role in raising the 758-ton spire for the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center in May 2013.



NOON Steering Committee Open Meeting, Tuesday, May 9, 7-8:30 pm, Syracuse Peace Council, 2013 East Genesee St, Syracuse, NY. Since new people often have a lot of questions, we recommend talking with Carol Baum, Syracuse Peace Council Staff (3154725478, or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (3154922684, before the meeting. June meeting date will be Tuesday, 6/13.


DAPL Fallout Continues: Defund Movement Passes $5 Billion

Portland City Council has also voted to divest.

 According to Fund razr, $3,003,819 has been raised so for the Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund  as of 5/4

Honor the Earth, Winona LaDuke's web site, is a good source of information on pipe lines and other environmental issues. Their newsletter which comes via email about once a month gives a brief update with more extensive coverage on the web site. You can sign up for the newsletter at the web site.

Tribal Members in Oklahoma Defeat Natural Gas Pipeline Company

Tom Porter will receive an Honorary Doctorary of Humane Letters , at Syracuse University 2017 Commencement. Tom is a Bear Clan elder of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne. Scroll down and learn about about Tom in the SU announcement.

Devils Tower is a name opposed by a number of tribes. A bill to officially designate the stone tower by that “Offensive, Disrespectful, Repugnant” name has been referred to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.


WITNESS TO INJUSTICE: UNRAVELING HISTORIC NATIVE & U.S. RELATIONS This inter-active group exercise is a 1 ½ hour teaching tool that uses participatory education to raise awareness of the history of the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the part of the world now known as the United States. Through the use of meaningful quotes, and blankets that represent part of Turtle Island (the Western Hemisphere), we explore this shared history that most people rarely learn in traditional settings. We engage in a conversation about the European colonization of Turtle Island in order to deepen our understanding of the denial of Indigenous peoples' nationhood throughout U.S. History. NOON is offering this exercise to groups, organizations, schools and churches. A good will offering to support NOON's work is appreciated If you would like additional information or to schedule a time for a presentation, please contact Sue Eiholzer at 315-492-2684 or

The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code film is premised on Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery, a book based on two decades of research by Shawnee, Lenape scholar Steven T. Newcomb. Available to borrow. Contact Carol Baum at 315-472-5478 or

 Standing on Sacred Ground Videos. Each of the 4 episodes is 60 min. Pilgrims and Tourists, Profit and Loss, Fire and Ice and Islands of Sanctuary. If you have a group of friends or know an organization that would like to view any of these films, please contact Carol Baum at 315-472-5478 or



Community Work Day!, May 20, Kanatsiohareke, Fonda, NY. Volunteers welcome and invited to come help Kanatsiohareke clean and prepare its stage and picnic tables, and take on other outdoor and indoor tasks for its upcoming June Strawberry Festival. Sign up to volunteer at: 518-673-4197 or Lunch provided.

Path Through History: "Onohgwa" (Corn Soup), June 17-18, Ganondagan State Historical Site, Victor, NY. Enjoy a guided walk then sample some traditional Seneca corn soup at the Longhouse.

Native American Dance & Music Festival, July 22-23, Ganondagan State Historical Site, Victor, NY.  Featuring the Akwesasne Women Singers and Theresa Bear Fox. New this year, a juried Haudenosaunee art show!

You can access past NOON E-Newsletters.