The Onondaga Nation, an Indian tribe based in upstate New York, filed a lawsuit yesterday claiming that it owns 3,100 square miles of land stretching from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Pennsylvania border and including Syracuse.
The tribe contends that the State of New York illegally acquired the land in a series of treaties between 1788 and 1822 and has asked the Federal District Court in Syracuse to declare that it still holds title to the land, which is now home to hundreds of thousands of people and includes all or part of 11 counties.
It is the largest Indian land claim ever filed in the state. The tribe said that it does not want all of that land, however, but that its principal intent is to gain leverage to clean up polluted sites in the land claim area.
The lawsuit names as defendants the State of New York, the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County, as well as five corporations that, the nation contends, have damaged the environment in the claim area.