Opinion: Onondaga Nation deserves justice

"A court case now before a federal judge in Albany is a very different kind of lawsuit. The Onondaga Nation is defending its land rights action, arguing not only that New York state took its land illegally, but that Honeywell International (formerly known as Allied Chemical) and four other companies acted improperly in polluting that land, the waterways that run through it and the air that all of us breathe.

The Onondaga have stated that they do not want a casino, and that they will not use their rights to evict anyone living in their historic territory which stretches from north of Watertown through Onondaga County and south of Binghamton. In fact, the first sentence of their lawsuit reads:

"The Onondaga people wish to bring about a healing between themselves and all others who live in this region that has been the homeland of the Onondaga Nation since the dawn of time."

Given the turmoil surrounding the land claims of other Haudenosaunee (or Iroquois) Nations, this sounds reasonable. After all, in 1985 the U.S. Supreme Court agreed that New York state illegally took almost all of the land from the Haudenosaunee.

So why is the court hearing necessary? Because New York has filed a motion to dismiss the case.

Why won't the state government sit down with the Onondaga and try to settle it instead? Republicans or Democrats, it does not seem to matter who is in charge. New York's intransigence and refusal to acknowledge its past illegal actions begins with the Onondaga's land rights and extends to the pollution that plagues the Onondaga's historic territory."

Get the Story:
Philip Arnold and Ellen Edgerton: Onondagas deserve justice (The Albany Times-Union 10/14)

Relevant Links:
Onondaga Nation - http://www.onondaganation.org

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