Onondaga Nation will take land claim to international courts

Oct 16, 2013

While the country's top court has thrown out the challenge, the Onondaga Indian Nation says it will now take its land claim fight to international courts.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Onondaga's petition this week to review the dismissal of its long-running lawsuit claiming a massive swath of land running down the middle of New York state.

The Nation had argued the 4,000 square miles in 11 counties was illegally taken by the state through a series of bogus treaties.

A lower court dismissed the land claim last year. The Supreme Court decision on Tuesday rejected a petition to review that dismissal.

While Tuesday's decision ends the Onondaga's lawsuit in U.S. courts, the tribe's attorney, Joe Heath, says a challenge may be filed with the United Nations or another international arena.

"There’s no denial of the historic illegal taking of their land by the state," he told WRVO. "They say that just doesn’t matter, it’s not fare for you to raise it at this time and the courts are buying into it."

Heath says that petition could come within six months.

The Onondaga's leader, Tadodaho Sidney Hill, said this in a statement:

Our people have called for healing, of the land and waters, and with our neighbors who share our lands. Our people have always talked about and worked for a return of our stolen lands, and we will continue to do so, for the sake of the future generations yet to come.

The high court's decision likely spells the end for a similar land claim pending from the Cayuga Indian Nation.