Tomorrow (Thursday, Oct. 11) is an important day for the Onondaga Nation and their land rights action, which was filed on March 11, 2005. The Onondagas are the last of the original five Haudenosaunee nations to approach the courts to ask for acknowledgement of title to lands affirmed as theirs in post-Revolutionary War treaties such as the Treaty of Canandaigua. (The 213th anniversary of the signing of that treaty happens to be exactly a month from Thursday.) The Onondagas are going to Albany on Thursday for the first federal hearing concerning the case they’ve brought against New York and other defendants; many Syracusans will be going there to show their support. The Onondagas’ lawsuit focuses not on casino deals but on environmental remediation, with the restoration of Onondaga Lake at its center. (This recent story from the Post-Standard offers the latest developments in the case, and this article from last year reviews what the State of New York will argue in order to get the suit thrown out, and some of the research refuting New York’s claims.)
Here in Syracuse, there will be a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. tonight in Clinton Square for those who wish to come out and show their support for the Onondagas and the many facets of what their land rights action stands for. No matter what the outcome of the hearing in Albany this week, it could be possible that the extraordinary conversation of last two and a half years that has already been planted in the Syracuse community, may well prove difficult to uproot.
Updated: Here’s a News 10 Now report on last night’s vigil.