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Onondaga Nation files human rights violation in Washington DC

In the Great Law as told by Jake Thomas, there would be a time that a strong wind would come in and threaten to blow down our great tree of peace. It was said that the tree would fall, but that it would not touch the ground because Haudenosaunee people would care for it so deeply that they would stand together around it, and that it would rest upon their joined arms.

In the Great Law as told by Jake Thomas, there would be a time that a strong wind would come in and threaten to blow down our great tree of peace. It was said that the tree would fall, but that it would not touch the ground because Haudenosaunee people would care for it so deeply that they would stand together around it, and that it would rest upon their joined arms. This time was thought to have been the Revolutionary War, when the United States began to draw lines across our Mother Earth, designating certain territories owned by men. 

Between the dates of 1788-1822, New York State illegally purchased over 4,000 square miles of land without consulting Onondaga Nation Chiefs, or the United States government. Despite numerous attempts to address illegal sales, the Supreme Court refused to hear Onondaga Nation’s land claim in 2011, relying on the precedent set by the Oneida Nation decision, that land claims are simply too disruptive.

Onondaga Nation Tadodaho Sid Hill, left, and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons hold up the historic wampum belt commissioned by George Washington to mark the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. The two were at the Friends Meeting House in Washington, D.C., where the Onondaga Nation held a news conference on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, to discuss the filing of a petition with an international panel, claiming the U.S. violated the Onondaga Nation's human rights by taking its land and refusing to honor the treaty commemorated by the wampum belt. The peace treaty guaranteed the Six Nations of the Iroquois “the free use and enjoyment”€ of their land.

Onondaga Nation Tadodaho Sid Hill, left, and Faithkeeper Oren Lyons hold up the historic wampum belt commissioned by George Washington to mark the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua. The two were at the Friends Meeting House in Washington, D.C., where the Onondaga Nation held a news conference on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, to discuss the filing of a petition with an international panel, claiming the U.S. violated the Onondaga Nation’s human rights by taking its land and refusing to honor the treaty commemorated by the wampum belt. The peace treaty guaranteed the Six Nations of the Iroquois “the free use and enjoyment”€ of their land.

After the October 2013 appeal to the Supreme Court was also turned down, the Nation had exhausted all domestic avenues to justice. As a result, this past April 15, 2014 the Onondaga Nation travelled to Washington, DC in order to file a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the United States, citing failure to uphold equality, judicial protection, and due process. The IACHR cannot legally act on the petition, except to appeal to the US Supreme Court asking for a reversal of the Oneida Nation land claims decision and urging reconciliation concerning the violations of Indigenous rights. Among those who went to DC to stand together with the Onondaga people, were Mohawks from Kahnawke, Akwesasne, and the support group known as Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation (NOON).

Andy Mager, who is a member of NOON and Project Coordinator for the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign, told the Two Row Times that the group was created to support the Onondaga Nation’s quest for justice. “The supporters traveled to Washington, D.C. where members of the Onondaga Nation held a news conference last Tuesday to discuss the filing of a petition with an international panel,” stated Mager. “The plan was to have a news conference in front of the White House but it was raining so we had a meeting at the Friends Meeting House nearby. We talked to the world through the media.”

According to Mager, “The moral force here was to educate people on what is going on and how the land was illegally taken from the Onondaga Nation. Our government made these treaties and they have repeatedly violated them.”

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1 Comment

  • Melissa
    April 23, 2014, 9:23 pm

    Thank you for making me see again, & clearly, how little progress we’ve made. And how stalwart some continue to courageously be. Thank you.

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