Contemporary Significance of the Canandaigua Treaty

Robert Odawi Porter (Seneca)

Monday, November 9th, 2020

4:30-6:00pm EST

RSVP for the event here

The Treaty of November 11, 1794, entered into between the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) and the United States of America at Canandaigua, is perhaps the most significant U.S treaty with Indigenous nations.  In addition to defining important territorial boundaries, the Treaty established peaceful relations with the Haudenosaunee and secured a potent military alliance for the recently liberated United States.  The Treaty also recognized Haudenosaunee sovereignty and the “free use and enjoyment” of aboriginal lands as a matter of American law. 

On the 226th anniversary of the Canandaigua Treaty, it is important to examine whether and how the Treaty retains significance for its signatory governments and their citizens.  While the Treaty remains in effect, recent developments in the U.S. Courts and Congress question whether America’s commitment to Indian treaty rights remains meaningful.  Robert Odawi Porter, a former President of the Seneca Nation and experienced advocate for Indigenous nations will discuss the modern-day significance of the Canandaigua Treaty.

Robert Odawi Porter is a former President of the Seneca Nation of Indians who has devoted his 30-year career to advancing the rights of sovereign American Indian nations in the United States.  President Porter was raised in the Nation’s Allegany Territory and earned his education from Syracuse University and Harvard Law School.  He served two terms as the Attorney General of the Seneca Nation and in 2010 was elected for a term as the Seneca Nation’s 67th President.  For 15 years, President Porter was also a tenured law professor at the University of Kansas, the University of Iowa, and Syracuse University, and has written numerous academic articles and books relating to the law and policy governing Indigenous nations and peoples.

A proven advocate, he has helped resolve major conflicts against the U.S. Federal and state governments to protect tribal sovereignty and treaty rights, including efforts to stop New York State from taxing Seneca commerce, protection of Seneca gaming and land rights, and lobbying for the Tribal General Welfare Exclusion Act of 2014, which ended the practice of IRS auditing of Indians for benefits received from their tribal governments.  Currently, he provides legal and lobbying services to Indigenous tribal governments, Native-owned businesses, and companies doing business in Indian Country through his law firm, Odawi Law PLLC, and his Federal government relations firm, the Capitol Hill Policy Group LLC.

Cornell University website:

Odawi Law PLLC