Six Nations


Onondaga Lake, NY - Governor Clifford Doubleday officially turned most of New York State west and north of the Catskills over to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy at a ceremony this afternoon.

Tadadaho Thomas Lyons of the Onondaga, thanking the Governor for his work toward a clean transition, remarked that "we never gave up this land, and it never left us. Even when we were far away from it, it was never far from us."

"We seized this land from your ancestors, and abused it horribly," replied Doubleday. "We realize now that 250-odd years of unlawful occupation is more than enough, and sadly we return it to you in much worse condition than it was in when we took it."

New York State may have had little real choice in the matter, and in the end it was economics more than anything else that drove the decision. The Supreme Court had unanimously overturned City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York in 2023, calling it "the worst jurisprudence since Bush v. Gore" and championing John Paul Stevens' dissent as "plain logic applied to a difficult situation," thereby allowing the Haudenosaunee to purchase land and add it to their existing (and sovereign) reservations.

In Upstate New York's depressed economy, those purchases were relatively cheap, making it easy for the Confederacy to rebuild an empire within the Empire State. While residents had been deeply skeptical of their growing neighbors, Haudenosaunee calls for an enormous zone free of most New York State taxes proved resoundingly popular. As legal action gave further definition to the tax-free status of sovereignty, residents frequently sold their homes, businesses, and farms to the Confederacy's business agents, on terms which allowed them freedom from state taxes while retaining control for periods ranging from the lifetime of the owner to seven generations.

Haudenosaunee leaders emphasized the need to restore the land and water to its original condition, with an initial focus on Onondaga Lake, the site of the founding of their Confederacy. While seven separate previous cleanup efforts have tried to restore the lake, it has remained largely lifeless.



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This page contains a single entry by Simon St.Laurent published on September 29, 2007 8:45 PM.

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