SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the Onondaga Indian Nation's petition to review the dismissal of its long-running lawsuit claiming a massive swath of land running down the middle of New York state.
The Nation had argued the 4,000 square miles in 11 counties was illegally taken by the state through a series of bogus treaties. The lawsuit also named the city of Syracuse and a number of local companies as defendants.
The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the land claim outright in 2012. The Supreme Court decision on Tuesday rejected a petition to review that dismissal.
The state had argued that the case should be dismissed because the tribe waited too long to sue. The same argument doomed previous land claims by the Oneida and Cayuga tribes.
When the Onondagas filed their lawsuit in March 2005, they stressed they weren't seeking monetary damages, eviction of residents or rental payments. Instead, they wanted a court judgment that New York violated federal law in acquiring ancestral tribal lands and that the land continues to belong to the Onondagas.
While Tuesday's decision ends the Onondagas' lawsuit in U.S. courts, the tribe's attorney, Joe Heath, said a challenge may be filed with the United Nations or another international body.
"Our people have always talked about and worked for a return of our stolen lands, and we will continue to do so, for the sake of the future generations yet to come," said Sid Hill, an Onondaga chief and the Tadadaho, or spiritual leader, of the six-nation Iroquois Confederacy.