March 11, 2005

Is Dryden in an Onondaga land claim?

The Syracuse Post-Standard reports that the Onondaga nation:

will claim ownership of a 40-mile-wide swath of land stretching from the Thousand Islands to Pennsylvania in a historic lawsuit it will file today against New York, Onondaga County and Syracuse.

The Onondagas will ask a federal court to declare that New York illegally acquired the land in five treaties between 1788 and 1822, and they will ask for title to that land.

The disputed territory includes roughly 4,000 square miles - including nearly all of Syracuse, plus Oswego, Fulton, Watertown, Cortland and Binghamton. About 875,000 people live in the claim area....

While the lawsuit asks a judge to declare the entire area as Onondaga property, Chief Sid Hill stressed the nation will not sue individual property owners or evict anyone from their homes.

The Onondagas - a nation of 1,500 members who live on about 11 square miles just south of Syracuse - are not seeking monetary damages in this action.

The suit asks the court to declare that New York violated federal and state laws when it bought the Onondaga land, said Joseph Heath, the Onondagas' attorney.

Hill said the Onondagas hope such a ruling would force New York officials to bargain with them on compensation for the illegal sales and to compel New York to better clean up environmental hazards in the claim area - especially Onondaga Lake...

Elsewhere in New York, land claims have not hurt anyone's ability to buy and sell real estate, according to real estate professionals in those areas.

"Day-to-day, no one will see any difference," Heath said. "Certainly not until there's a judgment. Then the state has to figure out how we are going to resolve that."...

The Onondagas will face higher hurdles to reclaim title to the larger area - for thousands of square miles in Oswego, Cayuga, Cortland, Tompkins, Jefferson, Tioga and Broome counties. That represents almost one-tenth of all New York.

New York acquired this land - about 90 percent of the Onondagas' aboriginal territory - in a treaty signed in 1788, two years before congressional approval of Indian land transactions was explicitly required.

No Native American nation in New York has won a court decision covering territory acquired before 1790, said Locklear, who argued the 1985 Oneida case before the Supreme Court.

I can't find a map of the claim, but they do mention Tompkins County, and Cortland's not very far. I'll post more when I find out. The entire article is definitely worth a read in any case.

Update: Yes, part of Dryden (Etna and east?) is definitely in the land claim area, as shown in the map available here. The Onondaga Nation site has a whole section about the land claim with answers to frequently asked questions.

And thanks to NYCO for bringing this up!

Posted by simon at March 11, 2005 11:47 AM in ,
Note on photos