Gayanashogowa and Guardianship: Expanding and Clarifying the Federal-Tribal Trust Relationship


The Onondaga Nation of New York seeks to nullify a series of treaties executed by the State of New York, and thereby assert title to over 3100 square miles of land in Central New York State. The goal of the suit is to enforce an environmental restoration of culturally and historically significant aboriginal lands. In order to bring a claim against the State, the Nation must first compel the federal gov-ernment to act on its behalf. By emphasizing distinctive features of Iroquois self-government, the following Note suggests ways to expand the federal government’s trust responsibility to protect cultural inter-ests in land against state intrusion. To do so, this Note explores the complex tension between Euro-American conceptions of governance and the Native American, particularly Iroquois, law of Gayanashogowa, or the Great Law of Peace.


Environmental Law | Indian and Aboriginal Law

Date of this Version

April 2006