Onondaga Nation Files Human Rights Violations against US
The Onondaga Nation’s petition is unique in that it is not seeking evictions from its historic territory, monetary damages or a casino. Instead, it seeks reconciliation and a ruling that would allow the Nation to continue its role as an environmental steward of the land it once conserved for centuries.
“The Nation brings this Petition to bring about a healing between themselves and all others who live in the region that has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time,” the petition says. “The Nation and its people have a unique spiritual, cultural and historic relationship with the land, which is embodied in the Gayanashagowa, the Great Law of Peace. This relationship goes far beyond federal and state legal concepts of ownership, possession or legal rights. The people are one with the land, and consider themselves stewards of it. It is the duty of the Nation’s leaders to work for a healing of this land, to protect it, and to pass it on to future generations. The Onondaga Nation brings this Petition on behalf of its people in the hope that it may hasten the process of reconciliation and bring lasting justice, peace and respect among all who inhabit the area.”
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is also named as a plaintiff on the petition.
Onondaga’s legal trip began March 11, 2005, when it filed its land rights action in federal court.
On March 29, 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court issued its devastating decision in Sherrill v. Oneida – an 8-1 ruling that invoked the Doctrine of Laches – the idea that the Oneida Nation had waited too long to claim the land.
Although the high court acknowledged that the Oneida Nation’s 300,000-acre land claim was indeed the Nation’s historic reservation that had never been “dis-established and that New York state had taken the land in violation of the law and treaties, the “standards of equity” demanded that it would be too “disruptive” of the current occupants’ lives to return the stolen land to Oneida.
The “standards of federal Indian law and federal equity practice precluded the tribe from rekindling embers of sovereignty that long ago grew cold,” the majority in Sherrill wrote in a footnote.
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