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News ::
PEACE CAMP ON ONEIDA TERRITORY KEEPS POLICE AT BAY (english)
18 Sep 2002
This past weekend, September 15-17, up to 100 activists and supporters of the Oneida land struggle in central New York joined forces to hold off the illegal eviction and demolition of Danielle Shenandoah’s home by the illegitimate regime of Ray Halbritter.
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This past weekend, September 15-17, up to 100 activists and supporters of the Oneida land struggle in central New York joined forces to hold off the illegal eviction and demolition of Danielle Shenandoah’s home by the illegitimate regime of Ray Halbritter.
PEACE CAMP ON ONEIDA TERRITORY KEEPS POLICE AT BAY

This past weekend, September 15-17, up to 100 activists and supporters of the Oneida land struggle in central New York joined forces to hold off the illegal eviction and demolition of Danielle Shenandoah’s home by the illegitimate regime of Ray Halbritter. Both native and non-native supporters (at the request of the Oneida people) filled the peace camp in front of Danielle's trailer to protect the family from eviction and the demolition of their home. A strong presence of Mohawks, Seneca, and Oneidas, along with students, peace activists and anarchists from across the Northeast, including Boston and Western Mass., and Canada worked together to keep 24-hour watches, practice non-violent tactics and prepared to lockdown on the roof to protect the property.

Danielle’s court ordered September 15th deadline to leave her property came and passed without incident, a small victory that was briefly celebrated at a meeting held Sunday night in the living room of her two-bedroom trailer home that she shares with her three children.

“We’ve held them off again, and won a small battle, but this struggle is far from over. We need to show Halbritter and his thugs that I’m not going to give this place up, because if my home goes the rest of these homes go,” said Danielle, pointing to the few remaining homes of Oneidas who continue to defy Halbritter’s authority.

On Monday morning, activists who remained at the peace camp prepared for the possible arrest of Danielle for defying Halbritter’s court order to vacate her house. Everyone agreed to put themselves in arrestable situations, a media and medic team was formed, some became part of a human chain around the house, while others prepared to lock down on the roof with Danielle. Several natives including Mohawks and Oneidas involved in the struggle chose to protect the inside of the house. While there were several tense moments, again the strong visible resistance proved to be a formidable deterrent to Oneida Nation Police force, who prowled around the property all day but never moved in.

“This police force is an illegitimate, non-native paramilitary force, they have no real power and they know it,” Danielle stated Monday, “they can’t arrest non-natives, and legally their authority has never been approved by the Oneida people, only Halbritter.”

It is more clear than ever that the last remaining traditional native families on the 32 acre Oneida Indian territory in Central New York face the immediate threat of eviction, the demolition of their homes, and the end to their traditional ways and culture. 13 homes have been destroyed in the past year and the resisting families are continually harassed, photographed and watched by Halbritter’s non-native police force.

For years, these indigenous Oneida families have fought the daily assault on their homes and their lives by the illegitimate (and backed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs) tribal leadership of Ray Halbritter. Halbritter, a Harvard educated businessman, has incorporated the tribe and owns and operates Turning Stone Resort, the largest casino in New York State. While his casino brings in $3 million a day, and he collects a hefty annual salary as CEO of Oneida Nation Inc., most Oneida live in dire poverty.

Danielle, her sisters, and Maise Shenandoah (an Oneida clan mother), are among the last remaining families that reside on the sovereign territory. Since 1995 when 200 Oneida people chose to speak out against Halbritter, he has locked the traditional longhouse, closed the community food bank, and cutoff hundreds of Oneida from the tribal rolls, stripping them of their benefits and taking away their rights. Halbritter has also replaced the traditionally matrilineal system of self-governance with an authoritarian patriarchal and illegal, men's council.

So far the current resistance has held off the destruction of the last few homes, but more support is still urgently needed to help continue this struggle. Danielle says her three children still face immediate eviction and are under 24-hour surveillance, essentially hostages in their own home. “They talk about terrorism, and all these other countries, well it’s going on right here, right now in central New York.”

As the last Oneida living on their traditional territory, these families are urging any concerned people to help out by coming out to the land or pressuring elected officials across the state to pay attention to the injustice going on right under their noses. And a demonstration in front of the Governors mansion is planned for this Friday September 20 at 12pm noon.

Contact Info:

Danielle Shenandoah: (315) 361-4346
Joanne Shenandoah: (315) 361-1655
Email: denschen (at) yahoo.com, 1wolf7665 (at) hotmail.com, Rain143 (at) msn.com, OneidaIroqious (at) aol.com

In Albany:

Ironweed Collective: (518) 436-0929 (anytime)
The Free School: (518) 434-3072 (daytime)
Email: bsmm96 (at) yahoo.com, sheldoncarnes (at) hotmail.com

Directions to Oneida Territory:

Off NYS thruway exit 33, make a left onto route 365, follow to end to route 5, make right and at the intersection of Friendly’s restaurant make a left onto route 46 S, 3.5 miles make a left at the intersection of blinking light, check-in point is last home on the left side of the road.

**Please bring tents, sleeping bags, any and all recording devices, walkie-talkies, phone cards, supplies, food, and good spirits. At any given moment the paramilitary Oneida Police will be coming to evict and demolish.
See also:
www.oneidasfordemocracy.org
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