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Onondaga Nation Land Claim records

Identifier: Law Spec. Coll. 09

Scope and Contents

Collection includes official court filings, historical and legal experts' reports and maps, a transcript of oral argument, and background research materials prepared during the ongoing litigation. Also included is related information collected by the processor, Karen L. Spencer, the Archives and Special Collections Librarian in the Charles B. Sears Law Library.


  • 2005-2008


Terms of Access

The bulk of the Onondaga Nation Land Claims Records are open for research. Materials can be examined by qualified researchers in the Law Library during hours of operation during which Law Reference Librarians are present. In order to insure access, researchers are advised to contact the Law Library in advance of visits.


Court materials are in the public domain. Copyright of background research materials lies with the respective authors or authors’ heirs and publishers. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

On March 11, 2005 the Onondaga Nation filed a federal court action in the Northern District of New York seeking a declaratory judgment that they hold title to their aboriginal territory in central New York State stretching from Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River to Pennsylvania. The case, Onondaga Nation v. New York, et al, 05-CV-0314 , does not seek eviction of landholders or damages but a declaration that New York illegally took the land from the Onondagas in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Onondaga's expressed motivation is to participate in and encourage full environmental clean-up of Onondaga Lake and the surrounding area.

The defendants are the State of New York, the Governor, Onondaga County, the City of Syracuse, Honeywell International, Inc., Trigen Syracuse Energy Corp., Clark Concrete Co., Inc., Valley Realty Development Co., Inc., and Hanson Aggregates North America.

Oral argument on the defendants' motion to dismiss was heard on October 11, 2007.


1 Linear Feet (2 manuscript boxes)

Language of Materials



Materials from litigation of Onondaga Nation land claims in central New York State, Onondaga Nation v. New York, et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of New York, Docket 05-CV-0314


The collection is arranged in four series:

I. Plaintiff's Filings

II. Defendant's Filings

III. Court Actions

IV. Background Materials

I-III are arranged by item number in the court's docket found in Series III.

Acquisition Information

Gift of electronic copy on cd-rom of items filed on behalf of the plaintiff, Onondaga Nation, received from their attorney, Joseph Heath in November, 2006. Other items from the docket printed from the PACER electronic database in January 2008. Also includes background information collected by the processor.

Accruals and Additions

Accruals are expected to this collection as the case progresses through the courts.

Related Resources

Howard R. Berman Collection
This Law Special Collection includes books on the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Indians or Six Nations) as well as the papers of Mr. Berman who was an early leader in the development of law on the rights of indigenous peoples.
Marilyn L. Haas Collection
This Law Special Collection includes books on the Haudenosaunee (also known as the Iroquois Indians or Six Nations) with special emphasis on the Senecas and Tuscaroras.
Seneca Nation Land Claims Records
This Law Special Collection materials from litigation of Seneca Nation of Indians and Tonawanda Senecas’ land claims for Grand Island, New York and the Oil Springs Reservation in Cuba, New York.

Processing Information

Processed by Karen L. Spencer.

Finding Aid for the Onondaga Nation Land Claim records, 2005-2008
Finding aid prepared by Karen L. Spencer.
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Charles B. Sears Law Library Repository

O'Brian Hall
Buffalo New York 14260 United States