Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation


Repatriation is the returning of cultural items — human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony — to lineal descendants. In the United States this refers most often to Native Americans and is covered by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). Native American cultural items and remains have been and are sometimes valued by non-native individuals seeking to collect or sell them. Other times they were turned over to universities or museums, studied, stored and often forgotten.

While NAGPRA is a beginning and commendable, it can be very complicated, as in the case of the National Museum of the American Indians which has developed a detailed process for repatriation. The US Government Accountability Office notes that a 2020 report estimated that there are more than 116,000 Native American human remains still in museums and other collections. So there is still much work to be done.

Approximately, forty-six states have passed their own laws governing the steps required when Native American burial sites were discovered in their state. Why did the New York Legislature unanimously pass the Protection of Unmarked Graves Act? Why did other states pass their own acts into law? Because NAGPRA does not cover the discovery of burial sites or how materials discovered should be handled. It only covers institutions that receive federal funding and have been given remains and artifacts. It specifies practices to follow in repatriating cultural items to the appropriate descendants.

Cornell has recently returned native remains dug up in 1964. This is an example of how discoveries were often handled in the past. Cornell President Martha E. Pollack said, “We’re returning ancestral remains and possessions that we now recognize never should have been taken, never should have come to Cornell and never should have been kept here.”

The University of Kansas (KU) has hired a repatriation program manager to facilitate the return of 380 ancestors and 554 burial objects university staff found on campus in September 2022.

Representatives of the Haudenosaunee were in Geneva, Switzerland recently to take back sacred objects on display at the Museum of Ethnography. Some items had been in the museum’s posession since 1825. Themuseum has been inviting and cooperating with traditional communities to identify the objects that could be returned giving priority to human remains, funeral artefacts and sacred objects. One man seeing the objects on displayand and bringing it to the director’s attention started this process.

Several years ago, the director of the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse was challenged by an Onondaga Clan Mother to return the remains of her ancestors that they had in their possession. Because he was new to his job, he was not familiar with everything OHA had in their collection. When he checked with his staff, he discovered that she was correct. Remains and sacred materials are often stored away and forgotten. OHA repatriated the remains and they were re-interred at the Onondaga Nation. OHA also returned cultural items.

Unfortunately, the human rights of Native Americans have too often been disrespected out of ignorance or in the name of “progress” or to expedite financial avarice. If you happen to find what you suspect is a burial site, please notify authorities and encourage them to follow appropriate procedures. If you learn about an institution or visit a museum that has cultural material in their possession, let the appropriate individuals know about NAGPRA and also your discomfort with their collection. The National Park Service provides extensive guidelines. Share this information with friends and family to educate more people about this injustice to the original peoples of our land.

In the February newsletter, we highlighted this issue when New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed the Protection of Unmarked Graves Act, which had passed both houses of the New York State legislature unanimously. If you live in New York and have not contacted Gov. Hochul, you may want to let her know your feelings about her veto at Governor Contact Form | Governor Kathy Hochul ( or calling her at 1-518-474-8390. If she does not hear feedback that her constituents are unhappy with her decision, she will have no reason to act differently in the future.

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

We are thankful for their stewardship of our environment.


Go Fund Me account to help with medical expenses for Alfie Jacques, well known wooden lacrosse stick maker.


Skä•noñh – Great Law of Peace Center After a period of being open only to scheduled group tours, the Center has reopened its doors to the public for walk-ins! Skä•noñh is now open from 10am-4pm Wednesday-Friday, and 11am-4pm on Saturday. _________

NOON Steering Committee Open Meeting, Next meeting March 21, 7-8:30 PM, virtual. Since new people often have a lot of questions and you will need contact info for the virtual meeting, we recommend contacting Lee Cridland, Peace Council Staff, or Sue Eiholzer, NOON Volunteer, before the meeting.


To aid you in focusing, articles are arranged by topic and coded for length (S – short, M – Medium, L – Long) with a designation for Video and/or Audio.


Why AIM Chose Wounded Knee to Occupy 50 Years Ago – M

Historians say 1969 occupation sparked Native American land reclamation efforts -M

Violence Against Native Women Has Colonial Roots – L

Indigenous history still missing from Canada’s citizenship kit – S

Children from at least 40 Native American tribes forced to attend residential school in Indiana – L w video


For Native American chefs, recognition inspires a wider reckoning – L

Native American students could wear feathers at high school graduations if NC bill OK’d – M

Some Oklahoma schools don’t let students wear tribal regalia. Lawmakers could end that – M

The Use Of Sage In Purification Rituals Comes At A Cost – L

Heard Museum Hosts Historic Crowd for 33rd Annual World Hoop Dance Contest – S

How do you say ‘I Love You’ in Your Indigenous Language? – S

Bay Mills Farm Brews Cultural Knowledge, Traditional Tea – S

Onondaga Nation, People of the Hills – web site


US Interior Department Seeks to Restore Bison – M

Does Pollution of the Great Lakes Violate Tribal Treaty Rights? – L

Three tribes file new lawsuit challenging Thacker Pass lithium mine – L


Open Casting Call for “Reservation Dogs” Brings Thousands to Audition – S

Exhibition of Indigenous Artwork Shares Connections to Thriving Communities – M

Native American Soprano Will Honor Her Ancestor, Chicago’s Indigenous People at Upcoming Opera – M

Cree Actress Alyssa Wapanatâhk Brings Indigeneity to New Peter Pan Film – M

From Reservation Dogs to Murder in Big Horn, The Rise of Native Media – L

Navajo Puppeteer Pete Sands ‘captures imaginations’ in Phoenix – S


Oneida Cyclist Shayna Powless Races into 2023 Season – M

Legislation Would Pay Pennsylvania Schools to Eliminate Native Mascots – S

Super Bowl Protesters Demand Kansas City Football Team Change its Name – S

KC Football Team in Overtime: Time to Drop the Chiefs Name – S

Indigenous Ancestry Plays an Essential Role in Ojibwe NFL Player’s Success On and Off the Field – M


Bipartisan Legislation Reintroduced to Solidify Tribal Trust Agreements – S

Utah Legislature considering bill on adoption of Native American children – S

Native Healing Coalition Seeks Tribal Support for Indian Boarding School Legislation – S

A Looming Court Case Threatens Native Sovereignty – L

After Centuries Of Stealing Land, The U.S. Govt Is Actually Inviting Tribes To Help Manage It – L

Nevada bill: Coordinate Indigenous missing persons investigations – S

Supreme Court Sovereignty Project Gets $600K Boost – S

Onondaga Nation Newsletter

Anyone interested in subscribing to the Onondaga Nation’s monthly e-newsletter can email with your first and last name. One request per email address please.


Because the Syracuse Peace Council office is only open sporadically, contact Lee Cridland so she can arrange to get them to you.

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 Lee Cridland via email or phone 315-472-5478

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 Lee Cridland phone 315-472-5478.

In addition NOON has organized dozens of educational programs over the past 20 years which are available on line at SPC’s You Tube Channel. Fifteen years ago we coordinated the historic series Onondaga Land Rights and Our Common Future. Check out the videos here.

WITNESS TO INJUSTICE: UNRAVELING HISTORIC NATIVE & U.S. RELATIONS. This inter-active group exercise is a 2 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, contact Cecelia Elm.

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