Onondaga is a Sacred Lake
Birthplace of Democracy in the New World
where The Peacemaker planted The Tree of Peace
and taught The Great Law of Peace

special presentation by David Yarrow


Onondaga was once called The Salt Lake due to salt springs bubbling up by it. Brackish lake waters nursed abundant fish and waterfowl, with unique species such as Onondaga Whitefish. Salmon migrated from deep sea to spawn in the lake.

In ancient time, dim in human memory, a man, born of a virgin, appeared on Onondaga Lake in a white stone boat. At the shore, he announced he was a Messenger sent by Creator to end war and killing. Hiawatha, an Onondaga, became the Peacemaker's spokesman. Together, they taught all people the Path of Peace. At Onondaga Lake, Peacemaker and Hiawatha united Five Nations in a Confederacy, symbolized by The Tree of Peace. Onondaga Nation is the heart of this Confederacy, keeper of the-fire-that-never-dies.

In 1788, Onondaga Nation signed The Salt Treaty allowing New York State joint use of the Salt Lake to make salt. In 1793, New York forced a second treaty on the Nation taking more land away. A 1795 treaty took the Salt Lake from the Nation.

Syracuse, the Salt City, grew south of the lake. Forests clearcut, swamps drained, limestone mined. Silt choked the lake. Salt industry slurries piled by the lake. City sewage floated on the lake. Garbage heaped by the lake. Industrial chemicals, heavy metals and mercury dumped in the lake. Swimming and fishing were banned.

In the 1970s, environmental awareness emerged. A new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited Onondaga Lake among America's most polluted lakes. Scientists studying the lake declared it nearly dead—devoid of life—water so dense and murky, a diver's hand is unseen six inches from his face. Large areas of lake bottom are toxic waste sites.

In 1975, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled New York State violated federal laws making treaties taking land from Oneida Nation while U.S. government neglected treaty-sworn duties to protect the Five Nations from just such actions. The Oneida Land Claim set legal principles for an Onondaga Claim.

Valentine’s Day 1990, the new Onondaga Lake Commission members met in Syracuse; its six members are the U.S. Senator, U.S. Congressman, New York Governor, Onondaga County Executive, and Syracuse Mayor, U.S. EPA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Governor Cuomo declared, "we will use the same kind of technology that flew a man to the moon in one decade to clean up Onondaga Lake."

July 1990, The Salt Treaty between Onondaga Nation and New York State expired. Everyone expects the Nation to assert its land claim and insist on the restoration of The Salt Lake.

in The New World
not a holy mountain,
but a sacred lake
not to Heavenly Father,
but Earth Mother

Water is the Gift of the Mother
The Lady of the Lake

Land of the Lake

The five Great Lakes are the New World largest fresh watershed. The Finger Lakes are the east gateway into this tremendous fresh watershed, linking it to the Mohawk-Hudson waters and the Atlantic Ocean.

Onondaga, the first Finger Lake, is home of the-fire-that-never-dies.

Life of the Lake

Water is humble, and always seeks the lowest level to fill land's hollow spaces. A lake is a holy place. Nestled in limestone, seasoned by ancient ocean salt, Onondaga Lake teemed with unique diversity of life.

Lady of the Lake

In ancient time before human memory, people gathered at the Lake for ceremony to honor the Earth Mother and give thanks for all Her gifts. From the land, together, they made a Temple to the Lady of the Lake and her Star Sisters in Heaven.

Legend of the Lake

A legend of the Lake tells of a Peacemaker who, with Hiawatha, his Onondaga spokesman, taught the Five Nations to bury the hatchet and live together as a Confederacy under The Tree of Peace, guided by The Great Law of Peace.

Sacred Site Surveys
3rd Saturday Monthly

March 20 - Dec. 21
meet at sunrise
Onondaga Park mound
8am: survey teams meet
9am: teams go to other sites
4pm: teams meet at Willow Bay
for the Waters

simple ecumenical ceremony

5pm 3rd Saturday monthly

Willow Bay
Onondaga Lake Park

by the
Chief Jake Swamp Tree of Peace

David YarrowTurtle EyeLandchampiontrees@msn.comwww.champontrees.org/yarrow/ — updated 3/21/2000