An American Indian American group is asking the international community to charge the United States with human rights violations in hopes of getting help with a land claim.
The Onondaga Indian Nation says it plans to file a petition at the Organization of American States today. It wants the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare that the U.S. government’s decision not to hear its lawsuit asking for the return of 2.5 million acres in upstate New York violates international human rights agreements.
The nation has argued that about 4,000 square miles in 11 upstate New York counties stretching from Pennsylvania to Canada was illegally taken through a series of bogus treaties. More than 875,000 people live in the area, which includes Syracuse and other cities.
U.S. courts have refused to hear the lawsuit asking for the return of their land, with the Supreme Court turning away a final petition in October.
While in Washington, the group plans to display a belt that George Washington had commissioned to commemorate one of the treaties that was supposed to guarantee the Onondaga their land and “the free use and enjoyment thereof.”
The group says it is not seeking monetary damages, eviction of residents or rental payments. Instead, it wants a declaration that the land continues to belong to the Onondagas and that federal treaties were violated when it was taken away. Onondaga leaders have said they would use their claim to force the cleanup of hazardous, polluted sites like Onondaga Lake.