The Onondaga Nation is a sovereign nation of people with its own government. This government has been in existence for countless centuries.
Like other member-nations of the Haudenosaunee, the Onondaga Nation survives today as a sovereign, independent nation, living on a portion of its ancestral territory and maintaining its own distinct laws, language, customs, and culture.
Today, the Onondaga Nation consists of a 7,300-acre territory just south of Syracuse, on which it maintains its sovereignty and operates outside the general jurisdiction of New York State. The Nation is still governed by a Council of Chiefs, selected in accordance with its time-honored democratic system. In the same vein, many Onondagas practice traditional ceremonies and adhere to religious philosophies and social customs that long predate contact with Western civilizations. Aspects of this ideology have been incorporated into America’s legal system, as well as into its culture. Personal and societal consideration of the Seventh Generation is but one example of a Haudenosaunee world view that has informed, enhanced and enlightened American and other national cultures.
As an independent, sovereign government, the Onondaga Nation government does not pay income, sales, or excise taxes to New York State or to the federal government, nor does it receive any of the benefits paid for by these taxes.
Unlike several other New York native nations, the Onondaga Nation has chosen not to become involved in the casino business or other gambling ventures; instead, the Nation operates a tax-free smoke shop, which funds many community projects, including Onondaga language classes, a fire department, a Nation water system, a healing center, a waster transfer station, and a multi-purpose arena.