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Onondaga Nation declines federal housing grant, as it always does

Ryan Delaney
Oren Lyons, the faithkeeper of the Onondaga Nation in a file photo.

  The Onondaga Nation has turned down a recent federal housing grant, as it typically does.

"They do accept outside laws and they do not accept outside funding from either the state or federal government," Joe Heath, the Onondaga Nation's attorney, told WRVO.

The Onondaga were one of several Indian nations to be awarded funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development a few weeks ago. They are one of a smaller group of nations to turn down that money. The Onondaga’s attorney, says the nation views accepting such money as a violation of their sovereignty, Heath said.

"They just ask to left alone," he said. "They’re generating their own income, repairing their own people’s houses and as a matter of principal, do not take federal money."

Heath says cigarette sales bring in funding for home repair. 

Acceptance of the grant money within the Haudensasaunee was split. The Oneida and a larger group of Seneca accepted the funds. Smaller tribes that don’t partake in gambling, including the Tuscarora, declined it.

Heath couldn’t estimate the total dollar amount of money the Onondaga have declined over the years. About 2,000 Onondaga live on their territory south of Syracuse.