Land Rights Action

On March 11, 2005 the Onondaga Nation filed a historic Land Rights Action in federal court in Syracuse. The following is from the Onondaga Nation Communications Office. For further information about the land rights action, see the Onondaga Nation website at

 Specific Goals of the Onondaga Land Rights Action

  • To achieve a healing with our neighbors of the centuries of difficulties caused by the illegal taking of Onondaga and Haudenosaunee lands.
  • To restore to the Onondaga Nation recognition of title to its aboriginal territory.
  • To recover possession of portions of this territory from New York State and willing sellers for use of the Onondaga people.
  • To secure a continuing source of revenue from the Nation’s lands without displacing persons from the land.
  • To secure revenues and land sufficient to achieve economic self-sufficiency, including:
    • An adequate supply of quality housing
    • A quality education system
    • Affordable, quality health care
    • Sound and sustainable agricultural programs
    • Programs for the proper care of elders and youth
    • A program for environmental restoration and protection
    • Employment opportunities for the Nation and its neighbors.
  • “To protect and conserve the natural resources within and affecting the Nation’s land, as a means of safeguarding all citizens’ rights to a natural, healthy and environment.
  • “To obtain basic recognition of the rights of the Onondaga Nation, including those rights agreed upon in treaties with the United States.
  • “To secure Onondaga rights to hunt, fish and gather for subsistence and for cultural needs.
  • “To secure adequate protection for the burial sites of our ancestors, as well as other important sacred and archaeological sites.
  • “To resolve all ongoing conflicts with the state and federal governments, particularly regarding taxation and jurisdiction.
  • “To provide for the growth and perpetuation of Onondaga culture, language, laws, religion, and way of life.”

A detailed, four-page information flier (PDF) about the Onondaga Land Rights Action is available for download.

NOON Supports the Onondaga Land Rights Action

As residents of New York State we support the land rights action filed by the Onondaga Nation against the State of New York on March 11, 2005.

  • We understand that no individual will be sued and that there is no action requested against any individual property owners. Our homes are not in jeopardy.
  • We thank the Onondagas for their efforts to protect and heal the water, land and air, which we all share, from the devastating effects of industrial pollution of the environment.
  • We share these environmental concerns, and pledge our support for a just resolution to this legal action. It is our intention to contribute to making right the historic wrongs done to the Onondaga people.
  • We are hopeful that the outcome of this process will be a safer and healthier environment for all of us, for our children and the generations to follow.

Sign our solidarity statement

(Print version also available)

Onondaga Nation Files Appeal of their Land Rights Action

On Tuesday, February 28, leaders of the Onondaga Nation and Haudenosaunee Confederacy traveled to Washington, DC to announce the filing of the Onondaga appeal of their historic Land Rights Action. To highlight the importance, they brought with them the initial wampum belt commissioned by President George Washington to mark the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua.

Federal Judge Dismisses Onondaga Land Rights Action

On September 23, 2010, over 50 NOON supporters joined with friends at the Onondaga Nation to express our solidarity with the Onondaga in the wake of the federal court dismissal of the Onondaga Land Rights Action and recommit ourselves to the work of getting our nation to live up to the terms of the treaties we have signed with the Onondaga. NOON will continue our discussions about how best to convince our people to act justly. Read Judge Kahn’s decision here (pdf file, 16 pp.)

The Appeal

On October 12, 2012 the US 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the Onondaga Land Rights Action. Nearly 50 supporters, from Syracuse, New York City and elsewhere joined Onondaga leaders Freida Jacques, Jeanne Shenandoah and their lawyers in the courtroom. Onondaga General Counsel Joe Heath spoke on behalf of Onondaga, arguing that there were significant differences between this case and other Haudenosaunee cases which had been dismissed. He asked the judges to give the Onondaga the opportunity to have the facts of their case heard in court. The three judge panel asked questions that indicated an openness to considering those differences. After the hearing, the lawyers said it’s very difficult to guess how the judges will rule based on such hearings. After the hearing, Jeanne Shenandoah made it clear that the Onondaga will continue to pursue justice regardless of the court’s decision.

It could be as long as a year before a decision is released. See the links below for media coverage, video and photos of the hearing and related activities.

Supporters heard from the Onondaga leaders and attorneys at an event at the American Indian Community House the evening before the hearing and then again the following afternoon. In addition to pursuing their case in court, the Onondaga are also working with Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation and over 40 cosponsoring organizations to carry out the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign to bring their case directly to the people of New York State.

Press Conference Video: Onondaga Nation Appeals for Justice, Healing & Environmental Restoration
WRVO Radio Story, October 12, 2012

Post-Standard Article on Candle-Light Support Vigil, October 10, 2012

Post-Standard Article on Hearing, October 12, 2012
New York Daily News Article, October 13, 2012

Indian Country Today Article, October 17, 2012

Photo Gallery of Syracuse Candle Light Vigil
Photo Gallery of New York City events

For background information see: Onondaga Nation websites.

Please also consider:

-writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper(s) expressing (see suggested talking points)
-share this information with others -spread word of the event on Facebook

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