Law | National

New York tribes commemorate 220th anniversary of treaty

From left: Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Oren Lyons, PhD; Tadodaho of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Chief Sidney Hill; Suzan Harjo (Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee), guest curator of Nation to Nation; Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian; and Jim Gardner, executive for Legislative Archives, Presidential Programs, and Museum Programs at the National Archives, unveil the Treaty of Canandaigua of 1794, on loan to the museum. Photo from NMAI

Tribes in New York observed the 220th anniversary of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua on Tuesday.

The treaty recognized the rights of Cayuga, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga and Seneca nations. It was signed on November 11, 1794, in Canandaigua, where tribal, federal and state officials walked in a parade to commemorate the agreement.

"This is about educating Americans about a treaty that was signed by their government," G. Peter Jemison, a member of the Seneca Nation who manages the Ganondagan State Historical Site, told The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

A representative of the Onondaga Nation, however, pointed out that the agreement hasn't always been respected. The tribe's land rights were ignored and the tribe's land claim was thrown out in federal court.

“You know the Constitution very clearly says that treaties are supreme law of the land. It’s a fundamental tenet of a democracy that was created around the same time, just five years before this treaty," attorney Joe Heath told WAER. "And yet when Onondaga filed this lands right action, not seeking to take land away from anybody, but merely seeking recognition that the land was theirs, our courts shamefully made up their new defense. It said ‘none of that matters, you’ve waited too long.’”

The Oneida Nation and the Cayuga Nation also saw their land claims dismissed.

An original copy of the treaty is on display at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., as part of the exhibit, Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations.

Get the Story:
Canandaigua Treaty's import still resonates (The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle 11/12)
Anniversary of Signing of the Canandaigua Treaty Recalls Let Down by Courts (WAER 11/11)
Canandaigua Celebrates 220 Year-Old Treaty (WROC 11/11)
Marking The 220th Anniversary Of The Canandaigua Treaty (WXXI 11/11)
Treaty of Canandaigua to be commemorated today (The Finger Lake Times 11/11)

2nd Circuit Decision:
Onondaga Nation v. New York (October 19, 2012)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories:
Onondaga Nation headed to DC to pursue justice for land claim (04/14)
Aura Bogado: Onondaga Nation fights to reclaim stolen land (11/12)
Onondaga Nation vows to push land claim in international arena (10/16)
Matthew Fletcher: Disputing the idea of 'disruptive' tribal claims (10/16)
Supreme Court declines to take up Onondaga Nation land claim (10/15)
Supreme Court delays action on Onondaga Nation land claim (10/7)
2nd Circuit won't reinstate Onondaga Nation land claim lawsuit (10/19)