Nov 19/97: Onondaga people assert their rights


Mohawk Nation Office - Kahnawake Branch
November 19, 1997

It has been four years since the Onondaga Council of Chiefs closed down fuel and and cigarette businesses on Onondaga Territory, near Syracuse, New York. Since that time it has looked like a warzone. Many things transpired since 1993. One owner has since passed away, the Tadadaho, Leon Shenandoah has also passed on and the Onondaga Chiefs' Council, along with other Confederacy Chiefs, even signed an agreement with New York State to collect taxes against the wishes of the people. Fortunately, New York's Governor Pataki rescinded that agreement. The last event was the straw that broke the people's back. A complete usurpation of power by a few.

To this date there has been no accountability to the people. Only those who toe the line are granted mere token payments. The most significant event that has occurred was May 18, 1997 when the Onondaga Council of Chiefs used the force of New York State Troopers and Onondaga County Sheriff's Department to quell the voices of Confederacy people, this enraged Native and non-Native alike. Iroquois were charged with disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly, assault and disorderly conduct. Iroquois speaking out on issues that concern the seven generations on Iroquois land is not a crime, but a responsibility. Assault, yes but more like excessive beating on people who were carrying out their responsibilities.

The time has come for Onondagas to clean their house. Hopefully, the military arm of New York State will not be used once again to support this corrupt regime. Worldwide, the Great Orator Oren Lyons, speaks out against human rights abuses and corrupt governments, yet, he is the one in the Onondaga Nation that is the control and mastermind to keep the people living in third world conditions. Although he, himself jet sets across the country and overseas in luxury. Oren Lyons is one of the "impostor" Chiefs who gains his power and recognition by satisfying the whims of non-Native culture seekers who happen to be very powerful in the elite world.

Well, the jig's up, Onondaga people are now educating themselves on their Constitution, The Great Law of Peace. They now know that the power lies within the people and it is the responsibility of each person to assert that power for the benefit of the future. Chiefs are supposed to be the Voice of the people, not dictators. "We the People" is a derivative of the Iroquois Constitution. This is what the Onondaga people are now saying and doing. Onondagas are now insisting that their Government representatives be Onondagas and no other. They must be properly selected by the consensus of the Clans. The Great Law of Peace incorporates the ways and means to maintain harmony amongst the people.


We the Haudenosaunee from the Onondaga Territory write this Mission Statement for all the people of the Six Nations Confederacy and others to understand why we have no choice to open these Smoke Shops for the people.

We open these shops for the sole purpose for the Onondaga People and the generations yet to come. Each Onondaga will benefit from these businesses by ways of a job, profits, and community programs.

With moneys set aside from each business, we will be building a Cultural Center, Recreation Center, Daycare, and have elderly and youth assistants programs, plus receive monthly profit sharing.

We the Onondaga will be a premier example on how Haudenosaunee people can improve economically, strengthen and revitalize culturally in their territory.

The Onondaga People invite the Nation Members to assist us with their input on how we can work together to better serve our community.

Onondaga People

We are going to implement the following revocation in order to bring the funds of this Nation back to all Onondaga people. These funds of our Nation are being misused and used only to enhance the string hold a couple council members have on us. Money is flowing into the Nation Treasury from all over, and where is the Onondaga People's share?

We are in desperate need of programs that we have been promised to us for years but are never put in place. These promises keep us from wiggling out of our cage.

We are not trying to control trade and commerce on our Nation which we know will be the cry over your heads. We are trying to bring the Onondaga People to share the money they are entitled to. After our payment to the committee we will no longer have a voice on what happens to the money. We sincerely believe the committee will justly provide the needs of our community. If this does not happen you will definitely be able to voice your opinion for justice in disbursement of the money.

This is in no way intended to overthrow the Council of Chiefs or for any political advantage. We are only trying to give the Onondaga People what they are entitled to.

We propose to set up a committee of Onondagas. There will be three signatures for each cheque. One committee member will receive the money and records for public notice. Another committee member will write the cheques, sign and have two additional committee members also sign. This will be recorded for public notice. No cheques will be signed prior to the dispensing of money. The bank statement will be mailed directly to another committee member to ensure that there are checks and balances. The other committee member will record all financial figures and provide a statement of income and disbursements. This statement will be included with your cheque to the Onondaga People on a monthly basis.

We will give a certified cheque to the committee for the amount of the invoice from the cigarette wholesaler plus the $2.00 per carton, which is the going rate according to the compact. $1.00 will be disbursed to all Onondaga People and $1.00 from the proceeds will be placed in a separate account for separate purposes, plus another $1.00 will be added within 3 months after opening. The committee will total the Onondaga People's money and after each month, the Onondaga Indian Agent (Louella Derrick) will mail out checks to all enrolled Onondagas within 15 days after receiving the money.

Benefit Programs:

Death Benefit - to be given to each family to help with expenses

House Fire - to benefit family at this time

Handicapped - to renovate homes for more comfort in compliance with a submitted proposal (All invoices for such renovations will be approved by the committee, together with a timekeeper on each project)

Education - grants in amounts according to the amount available (Hopefully the amount will rise to the point of being able to support paying a share of tuition to any Onondaga person going for a higher education at any school of their choice)

Sports - to help defray expenses of tournaments, away games, and equipment in compliance with a submitted proposal

Senior Citizens - to transport to various places, groceries, doctors, and prearranged tours, lunches, or other activities for their enjoyment

Also Included:

Water system for the Nation, housing, funding to start a daycare, meals delivered to the ill and shut-ins as needed. Office supplies to keep the records, salaries for the work done.
Major projects for the benefit of all Onondaga People can be requested in writing to the committee which will review it with the persons submitting it. There is nothing our of reach of our People. Forms for the above benefits will be available to every Onondaga, there will be no discriminating allowed. Forms will be used only as a backup for the book-keeping committee.

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