Land Rights Action Talking Points

Onondaga Land Rights Action Talking Points

NOON Talking points:

-We support the call for healing, reconciliation and justice between our peoples and the land, as expressed in the first paragraph of the Onondaga Nation's Land Rights Action.

-Article IV of the U.S. Constitution says that "treaties are the supreme law of the land".

-We expect the U.S. Federal Government to honor the treaties they created with our Native neighbors, and for our legal system to provide a way for them to seek justice when they have been wronged.

About the Land Rights Action:

-The Onondaga Nation wants justice—New York State took their land illegally and needs to acknowledge this injustice and the Onondaga Nation's rights to the land.

-The Onondaga Nation does not seek evictions or casinos, as both concepts are violations of their traditional values.

-For the Onondaga people, the devastation of Onondaga Lake and pollution of other lands and waters, combined with the taking of most of their ancestral land and their confinement to a small “reservation,” has resulted in great hardship.

-This land rights case encompasses the traditional territory of the Onondaga people.

-Local polluters are named as defendants in this suit for their unrelenting damage to our land.

-The Onondaga Nation intends to use their rights to this land as a legal and moral force for the environment and the Earth—to clean up polluted areas and protect those areas not yet defiled for generations to come.

Background on Federal Treaties and State “Agreements”
- The 1784 Fort Stanwix Treaty between the Six Nations and the United States protected the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois Confederacy) land—including the Onondaga Nation territory.

-The U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1789, grants exclusive jurisdiction over Indian affairs to Congress, removing the ability of states to acquire Indian land without federal approval.

-In July of 1790, President George Washington encouraged Congress to enact the first Trade and Intercourse Act, which specifically prohibited states from taking Native lands without federal involvement and approval.

-The Canandaigua Treaty of 1794 affirmed the lands of the Onondaga and other Haudenosaunee nations.

-New York State claims it acquired the Onondaga lands through a series of agreements in 1788-90, 1793, 1795, 1817, and 1822. These were in violation of federal laws and treaties.

-The Onondaga Nation did not approve the 1788-1790 Fort Schuyler agreement, nor any of the subsequent agreements that appropriated their land—New York State grabbed whomever was available to sign these documents, not the Nation’s leaders.