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Native American Group asks OAS to Help With Land Claim

  • VOA News

FILE - Jake Edwards, of the Onondaga Council of Chiefs, stands outside the federal courthouse in Albany, N.Y., Oct. 11, 2007, after arguments were heard in the Onondaga Indian Nation's land claim case against New York state.
A Native American group says it is asking the Organization of American States to charge the United States with human rights violations.

Leaders of the Onondaga Indian Nation met Tuesday in Washington to petition the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, saying U.S. courts have violated the group's rights by refusing to hear its claim to 2.5 million acres in the eastern state of New York.

The Onondaga Nation says the land has been taken since 1788 in violation of several treaties.

U.S. courts, including the Supreme Court, have refused to hear the land claim.

The Onondaga Nation says it is not seeking evictions, monetary damages or a casino. It says it is asking to continue a healing process with others who live in the region, and for a ruling that would allow the Nation to continue to protect the environment of the land it conserved for centuries.

The Onondaga Nation says it wants to force the cleanup of hazardous, polluted sites on the land it claims. At issue is about 4,000 square miles in New York, with a population of more than 875,000.

Today, the Onondaga Nation holds a 7,300-acre territory just south of the city of Syracuse, New York.

The Onondaga Nation is supported in its claim by the six American Indian nations in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, which is made up of the Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga and Seneca Nations. Each nation maintains its own government, laws, language, customs, and culture.