April 2016



The Good Mind

(Note: The film's premier date is past but the article is informative. Film will be shown at Syracuse Film Festival.)

New York, NY—For the Onondaga Nation, it’s all about relationships. Relationships with ancestors, relationships with governments, relationships with each other, and relationship with the natural world. Each of these is highlighted in The Good Mind, a new film by New York film maker Gwendolen Cates that will premiere on February 27, 2016 during the 13th annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana.

This film takes on the amazing task of showing how as a traditional Nation we still raise up our leaders in our traditional way while maintaining our responsibilities to Mother Earth and our communities, as we have done for over a thousand years, and how we have remained relevant in a modern world,” observed Sid Hill, the Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy).

The Onondaga Nation, one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee, is one of the few Native nations in North America that has retained its traditional government and language, and a portion of its ancestral lands. The Good Mind follows Onondaga Nation leaders as they continue the efforts of their ancestors to protect their sovereignty and culture, seek justice for the wrongs done to their traditional lands, and work to prevent further harm. It is a snapshot of the modern lives of the indigenous peoples that live surrounded by New York State, and the echoes of the past that still reverberate today.

Learning about the Treaty of Canandaigua was my moment of realizing the Onondaga Nation’s story needed to be told,” said filmmaker Gwendolen Cates. “George Washington promised recognition and protection of Haudenosaunee lands, and the cloth payments for that treaty still arrive at Onondaga every year. But New York State in defiance of the Canandaigua Treaty stole most of the Onondaga Nation’s lands. Onondaga Lake, where the Peacemaker brought together the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca Nations to form the Haudenosaunee confederacy over 1000 years ago, was so badly polluted that it became a Superfund site. And yet the Onondaga Nation continues to work with their neighbors to protect the lands from further degradation.”

Onondaga Nation leaders speak frequently about the need to ban fracking and take action on climate change, as well as calling for a full clean up of Onondaga Lake.

Cates earned the privilege of working with the Onondagas through many years of relationship building herself. Her first exposure to the Onondaga Nation was in 2000 while working on her book, Indian Country. Numerous short film projects ultimately led to the creation of The Good Mind, including the award winning film Guswenta about the 400th anniversary of the first treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch in 2013.

While not Native herself, Cates has an indirect connection to the Haudenosaunee, discovered while looking at the 1748 Treaty of Lancaster one day with Onondaga Nation Faithkeeper Oren Lyons.

The treaty listed all of the parties present,” recounts Cates. “Including the Governor of Pennsylvania, Benjamin Shoemaker, a Quaker. I said to Oren, ‘That’s my ancestor!’ Seven generations ago, our ancestors were having meetings together.”

The proceedings of the Treaties of Lancaster were ultimately printed by none other than Benjamin Franklin, who ultimately included many concepts from Haudenosaunee confederacy government in the Albany Plan of Union, the predecessor to the Constitution.

The Good Mind will be shown on February 27, 2016 at 2 PM at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival’s “Crystal” venue in Missoula, Montana.

This article can be found on the internet at

# # # # # # # #

Syracuse International Film Festival showing, The Good Mind can be seen locally Saturday, April 30, 12:30 pm. My Idenity by Yasmin Mistry (11 min) and Iroquois Creation Story by Cat Ashworth (17 min) will run before The Good Mind by Gwendolen Cates (70 min). Learn more about the festival and these films at


# # # # # # # #

Onondaga Nation Case Study Assesses United States' Failure to Protect the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will consider case study for 2016 International Law Association conference in Johannesburg

March 31, 2016 Syracuse, NY - The International Law Association’s Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has accepted a Case Study on the lack of justice in the United States for the Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights to be included in a forthcoming report. On April 15, 2016 it will be two years since the Onondaga Nation petitioned the Inter -American Commission on Human Rights to consider the lack of justice provided by U.S. federal courts for their Land Rights Action. The petition is currently under preliminary consideration.

The case of the Onondaga Nation as well as the violations ommitted by the US government will be duly emphasized in the Committee's Report,” wrote Federico Lenzerini, Rapporteur to the ILA Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Professor of International Law at the University of Siena in Italy.

The Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights Action was filed in 2005 to address the illegal dispossession of the Nation from its original territory and natural resources and the resulting cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental and health depravations to its citizens. This illegal dispossession was in clear violation of three bilateral treaties between the United States and the Haudenosaunee Six Nations, the United States Constitution and federal laws of the United States.

In 2013, the Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights Action was summarily dismissed by the federal courts of the United States. Subsequently, on April 14, 2014, the Nation filed a Petition against the United States in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Since 1788, 2.5 million acres of land have been stolen from the Onondaga Nation by New York State,” said Joe Heath, General Counsel for the Onondaga Nation. “The failure of the US court system to protect the Onondaga Nation’s ancestral homeland, as promised in the Treaties, has left the Nation with no choice but to seek assistance for human rights violations from the international community.”

The International Law Association has a consultative status, as an international non-governmental organization, with a number of the United Nations specialized agencies. Its Committee on the Implementation of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is tasked with “carefully looking at what legal, quasi-legal and practical barriers potentially block the road from international legal standards to actual protection in a number of areas of the world,” recognizing that “a range of problems remains which often hinder the full realization of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples provisions and pertinent customary international law.” The Committee is accepting case studies that document such practical barriers; and the Nation has been barred from federal court, while the US has refused to subject itself to any international court with enforcement authority for human rights violations.

The introduction to the Onondaga Nation’s case study explains, “Since 2005, the federal courts of the United States have adopted a new standard of law that denies treaty rights to Indigenous nations and that only applies to Indian land rights cases. The practical result of this new standard is that Indigenous nations can not receive any justice in the federal courts of the United States.”

The United States’ misapplication of the legal doctrine of laches to perpetuate the dispossession of indigenous peoples from their lands affects not just our Nation, but others as well,” explained Sidney Hill, Tadodaho of the Onondaga Nation Council of Chiefs. “Injustice against indigenous peoples did not only happen in the past, it continues today. It should not be too much to ask that the United vStates find a way to honor the treaties it has made.”

In its petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Onondaga Nation demonstrates that the denial of any remedy for the taking of their land and the treaty violations are 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.

The ultimate purpose of the Onondaga Nation in the assertion of its land rights is to enable the Nation to maintain its culture and way of life, and to protect the earth

and its environment for all inhabitants of central New York. The Nation’s Land Rights Action has not been disruptive.

The Nation is seeking to continue the healing process between themselves and others who live in the region,” added Joe Heath. “The Nation is searching for positive ruling that would allow them to continue its role as an environmental steward of the land and waters it once conserved for centuries.”

In one of its recommendations in the Case Study, the Nation requests that the US should remove the doctrine of discovery from its legal jurisprudence. The opportunity to file the Case Study was brought to the Onondaga Nation’s attention by SUNY Brockport Professor Neal Keating, at the suggestion of Kenneth Deer of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake. The ILA’s Committee had called for the submission of Case Studies to be discussed at the ILA Biennial Conference in Johannesberg, South Africa in August.

The Onondaga Nation is one of the six nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. The Onondaga

Nation survives as a sovereign, independent nation, living on a portion of its ancestral territory and maintaining its own distinct government, laws, language, customs, and culture. Today, the Onondaga Nation consists of a 7,300-acre territory just south of Syracuse, NY.

To learn more about the Onondaga Nation’s Land Rights Action visit 

Reprinted from the Onondaga Nation Newsletter.

# # # # # # # #

We Need a Better Future for Onondaga Lake – An excellent article by Lindsay Speer from the March/April 2016 Syracuse Peace Council Newsletter.

In the next few years, many of the legally required remedies at Onondaga Lake will be wrapping up. However, the common-sense goals articulated by both the Onondaga Nation and the Clean Water Act—being able to drink the water, eat the fish, and swim in the lake—are still far out of reach. Onondaga Lake needs us.”

Read full article at



From the Earth Arts & Crafts Festival

Saturday April 16th from 10am to 5pm

Onondaga Nation School, Rte 11A

Haudenosaunee Singers & Dancerswill perform at 1 PM

Alfie Jacques with his assortment of wooden lacrosse sticks, over 40 Arts folks and crafters from all Six Nations as well as a visitor or two from the Navajo Nation.
There will be paintings, silver jewelry, stone jewelry, leather work, baskets, and many beaded items.

Lots of food, Corn Soup, hot scoons, Indian Tacos and lots of good food otherwise.

This is always an enjoyable time seeing friends from all other Nations

and visiting with friends from around the territory.

Extra parking will be in the Health Center parking lot.

From the Earth Arts & Crafts Festival benefits the ONS PTS which contributes to student needs and class trips at ONS.

All are welcome.


APRIL Activities, Seneca Art & Culture Center at Ganondagan, 7000 County Road 41 (Boughton Hill Road) Victor, NY 14564

APRIL 12, 19, and 26, 7-8 pm free (suggested donation $5/session) Weekly Meditation Series Features Native American Flute. Join Bani Aello, guided meditation instructor, and Jefferson Svengsouk, Native American flutist, who together help bring you in deeper contact with your heart, allowing you to live more fully and uncover deeper and more fulfilling levels of joy. Bring a yoga mat or blanket. Chairs will be available for those preferring to sit. Free, with $5/person suggested donation. For ages 14+. Please arrive at 6:45.

April 29, Arbor Day Tree Planting at Ganondagan. 1-3 pm, volunteers needed

Annual Early Technology Day, Saturday, April 23, 2016, from 10 am to 4 pm, Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave NY. Flint Knapping demonstrations and workshops, fire by friction demonstrations, atl-atl shoot and various demonstrations of Early Technology. Flint knapping is the ancient art of making chipped stone tools. Are you a knapper? Curious? Want to learn? Come and see or learn hands-on. Are you interested in archaeology? Have you ever found an artifact? Bring it with you and staff will try to identify it for you. This museum has one of the largest point-type collections on display, so you can also compare your find to theirs! This is a public event. web page

Haudenosaunee Culture: Sharing the River of Life, Traditional Beadworker Karenlyne Hill, Onondaga, Snipe Clan, Saturday, April 23, 2016, 2-3 PM AND Paddler and Traditional Canoe-maker Hickory Edwards, Onondaga, Turtle Clan, Sunday, April 24, 2-3 PM at the Waterman Conservation Center. 403 Hilton Road, Apalachin, NY 13732. For information on the center and directions 

Traditional Mohawk Wing Feather Fan Workshop, April 30, 2016, 9 am 4 pm, KANATSIOHAREKE, 4934 State Highway 5, Fonda, NY 12068. Taught by Bill Loran (Mohawk). Related discussions will include the evolution of fans, etiquette, Mohawk language connections and cultural ties. Fans will be made of deerskin and five 57 inch wing feathers. You may bring beads if you would like to bead your handle and if there is time. These fans retail for $150. Tuition: $140 includes lunch, materials and instructions. Preregistration is required. Class size: Maximum of 12 students. Register no later than April 23, so that we can plan for meals and materials. To register: Email: ionataiewas14@hotmail.com or call 518-584-9270. web site

Beaded Bird Workshop, Saturday, May 14, 104, Iroquois Museum, 324 Caverns Road, Howes Cave, NY with KarenLyne Hill, Member of the Native Roots Artist Guild. Maximum number of participants: 15; Ages: teen to adult; Supplies included. Workshop fee: $25 Registration Deadline: May 1. web page


NOON Steering Committee Meeting, April 8, 78:30 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 (3154725478,  carol@peacecouncil.net) or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer (3154922684,  rsue@twcny.rr.com) before the meeting.



 Irving Powless Jr. has been a chief of the Beaver Clan of the Onondaga Nation since 1964. An historian, statesman, actor, musician, and veteran, he has lectured about Indigenous culture and sovereignty, and has been a key spokesperson for the Haudenosaunee nations. Lesley Forrester is the editor of And Grandma Said . . . Iroquois Teachings: as passed down through the oral tradition.


Request from The Kanatsiohareke Community - Recently, longtime friends and supporters of Kanatsiohareke, Tony and Marcie Moonhawk, experienced a tragic fire that destroyed their trailer, tent, regalia, and all of their merchandise.The Moonhawk family and home was mostly unharmed, though two family members were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The Moonhawks, who have generously and lovingly helped the community out with the annual Strawberry Festival for many years, have started a Go Fund Me site with the hope that they can recoup some of their losses.

As is our tradition, the Kanatsiohareke community is seeking to aid the Moonhawks by raffling off a Pendelton, fringed, Cochiti blanket/shawl (68" X 68", retail value of $228.00). Tickets (1 for $3, 2 for $5 and 5 for $10) can be purchased by sending a check or money order to Kay Olan, 2 Kerr Drive, Wilton, NY,12831.Checks and money orders should be made out to Kanatsiohareke, Inc. and should contain the phrase “Moonhawk Benefit Raffle” in the Memo. Tickets can also be purchased directly at the upcoming Strawberry Festival, held on June 25 and 26, 2016. The raffle will be drawn at the festival on Sunday, June 26. You do not need to be present at the festival to win. Please consider giving generously to our friends just as they have done for us over the years. Niawenko:wa

Kanatsiohareke Mohawk Community is raising money to build a new outdoor pavilion! For decades they have been struggling with deteriorating infrastructure. They want to begin rebuilding spaces where they can hold cultural and educational workshops, talks, teachings and fundraisers! You can donate now online at . You can also help by sharing this post far and wide. Other ways you can help the community include checking out its workshops, educational talks, and upcoming Strawberry Festival. More information on these workshops can be found here, or by contacting Kay Olan at ionataiewas14@hotmail.com or at 518-584-9270.

In addition, the community is always looking for VOLUNTEERS, who are especially needed this time of year to help prepare for the upcoming Strawberry Festival. For more information on volunteering, please contact Donna Tall Bear at: mourningdve60@yahoo.com or 405-206-1949.

The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code Film 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 is available to borrow from the Syracuse Peace Council. If you have a group of friends or an organization and would like to show this film, please contact Carol Baum at 3154725478 or carol@peacecouncil.net

Iroquois Indian Museum, 324 Caverns Road, Howes Cave, NY opens for their 35th season on April 1 with a wonderful year of exhibits and programs including a special 35th anniversary party on Saturday, July 9. The opening exhibition is: "35 Years of Iroquois Art: A Retrospective". For information on all 2016 events, please visit the Museum's web site like on Facebook , and follow us on Twitter @iroquoismuseum.



CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS: Deyagwadohda•s ne' ganyada•de' na' o' ne' gana'ahga•' Is a voluntary clean up event to help Onondaga Lake. It is a chance to help Mother Earth like she's helped all of us throughout all of our lives!! The next clean up event will be in May if everything goes as planned. For more information go to the Facebook Page     From the Onondaga Nation Newsletter.



Iroquois Museum, July 9th , 35th anniversary celebration.

Haudenosaunee Culture: Sharing the River of Life, Lacrosse Stick-maker and Former Coach Alfred Jaques, Onondaga, Turtle Clan, Saturday, August 18, 2016, 2-3 PM AND Paddler and Flute-maker, Musician, Member of the haudenosaunee Environmental Task Force, Caretaker of the S.H.A.R.E, Farm, Cayuga Nation, Heron Clan, Sunday, August 14, 2-3 PM at the Waterman Conservation Center. 403 Hilton Road, Apalachin, NY 13732. For information on the center and directions


You can access past NOON ENewsletters at