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Onondaga Nation looks to court for acknowledgement

Attorneys for the Onondaga Nation are scheduled to appear in a federal appeals Court in New York City Friday. It's a continuing land claim dispute between the Native American nation, and New York state, over treaties signed hundreds of years ago.The lawsuit, initially filed in 2005, claims that New York state moved ahead with treaties with the Onondaga, even after a federal law in 1790 ruled that the domain of the federal government.

"And as a result of that hundreds of square miles of Onondaga territory has been whittled down to their small territory just south of Syracuse," said Andy Magers, a member of Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation, a group of citizens who will be in the courtroom to show support for the Onondaga.  

Magers says it's different from other land claim cases, because the nation isn't out to accumulate land.

"The Onondaga had been very clear, they are not looking to take advantage of people, they're not looking to kick people out of their homes, they're not looking to establish casinos -- but they do want these crimes acknowledged, they want compensations and they want to work with their neighbors in a cooperative way," he said.

Magers is hoping support from central New Yorkers at the hearing makes a difference, because in other cases, some community members opposed the land claims case.

But Magers isn't optimistic about their chances, considering past court rulings, and says the case could ultimately end up in the U.S. Supreme Court or international court.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.