The Oneidas for Democracy are the Oneida People who peacefully uphold the traditional values of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). The Onyota’a:ka - “People of the Standing Stone” have endured many hardships over the past few generations as they have struggled to maintain their status as Haudenosaunee. They have overcome great odds to return to their ancestral lands. Their inherent right to live in peace within Oneida Territory is rapidly being stripped away from them by the current leadership of the Oneida Nation of New York, Inc.
Pictured on the left is Mary Cornelius Winder (circa 1916) who worked tirelessly on behalf of the Oneida people so they would one day be united. Presently, Oneida people reside in New York, Wisconsin and Canada. It was her dream a homeland for all Oneida people would become a reality. It was because of Mary and her sister Delia Waterman’s efforts a land claim was begun. Sadly, their efforts have been thwarted due to the lust for money and control over our ancestral territory by a few misguided Oneidas. Against the wishes of the Confederacy, and without knowledge of the Oneida people, a Casino deal was struck between ex-Governor Cuomo and so-called Oneida Nation “CEO” Arthur Raymond Halbritter in 1993. The compact was never ratified by the Oneidas. Using money borrowed by Halbritter from the Key Bank of Central NY ( the CEO mortgaged Oneida land without our knowledge) “The Turning Stone Casino” was built in Oneida, NY. The Casino was built on wetlands in violation of both US and Haudenosaunee laws. Because Halbritter violated Haudenosaunee rules he was removed from his position as an Oneida spokesperson in May, 1993 a decision acknowledged by the US government only to be rescinded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs at the request of US Rep. Sherwood Boehlert who feared a change in Oneida leadership would place the casino in peril .
The Oneida people were completely unaware that any transactions for land, a casino, or lawsuits against 20,000 land owners would ensue. To date, the Oneida people who have opposed these decisions continue to be threatened with on-going human, civil and religious rights violations and are in present danger of losing their homes on the Oneida Indian Territory. Under the guise of a “beautification program”, the leadership has authorized a mock tribal court system to prosecute all those who stand up for their rights as Haudenosaunee. A 54 man, completely non-Native “Oneida Nation Police” force acting on the direct orders of Halbritter has harassed, intimidated and physically assaulted Oneida people on their own territory.
A Tree of Peace was planted on the territory in June of 2000 by Mohawk Nation Chief Jake Swamp at the Oneida Territory to encourage peace and reconciliation. On August 8, 2001, by “direct orders from the CEO” the non-Native contractor uprooted the Tree of Peace and cast it aside. Despite t his provocation the Oneida people continue to embrace peace, advocate for a return to traditional democracy, and call for unity among the Oneida people.
Because the Oneidas have sought to restore and protect their ancestral freedoms on their homelands they have endured:
*Human, civil and religious rights violations
*Personal property illegally confiscated
*Suspension of their Oneida membership
*No housing benefits
*Rejection of heating assistance
*On-going police abuses, arrests and harassment including 24 hour surveillance.
*Likely evictions from the 32 acre territory
*Denial of education benefits
*Subverting of due process In the so-called “Oneida court”