Dr. J. David Lehman
“Treaty” of Fort Schuyler 1788
While the Onondaga chiefs were in Ohio aiding the federal government in relations with other Native nations, New York State negotiated this “treaty” with unauthorized individuals at an unauthorized location and without the knowledge or consent of the Chiefs. In this “treaty”, New York claims to have acquired all of Onondaga’s lands, leaving only a reservation of 100 square miles around Onondaga Lake for the Nation. The Nation promptly protested the state treaty and denied its validity to New York Governor Clinton and President Washington.
“Treaty” of Onondaga 1793
While the Onondaga chiefs were again in Ohio, New York State gained control of approximately three-quarters of the remaining Onondaga Reservation created by the “Treaty” of Fort Schuyler. The “treaty council” was again made with unauthorized individuals. It was negotiated in violation of the federal Non-Intercourse Act, which expressly prohibited such state land cession treaties without federal oversight and participation. The state commissioners openly and cynically presented this land cession “treaty” as a lease, not a sale, throughout the negotiations leading to the signing of treaty. In fact, in their opening speeches, Commissioners Witt and Cantine repeatedly referred to the proposed agreement as a lease, not a sale.
“Treaty” of Cayuga Ferry 1795
New York again purposely misled the Onondaga Nation into thinking they were signing a lease and intentionally excluded a federal representative from the “negotiations.” After this taking the traditional homeland of the Onondagas had been reduced to 7,100 acres. Before any of these “treaties,” the territory included an estimated 2,500,000 acres.
“It is apparent from the historical record that the Onondaga Nation and the Six Nations Confederacy repeatedly protested against and denied the validity of the three treaties—the Treaty of Fort Schuyler, 1788-1790, the Treaty of Onondaga, 1793, and the Treaty of Cayuga Ferry, 1795—by which the State of New York gained control of more than 99% of their lands. They repeatedly sought the assistance and intervention of the United States in their behalf to protect their lands. When these protests proved ineffectual in preventing the State of New York from acquiring their lands, the Onondaga Nation would focus increasingly in the 19th and 20th centuries on protecting their remaining territory and maintaining their cultural autonomy and independence.”
– Dr. J. David Lehman