Says Nation will fight to enforce its sovereign rights to commerce

August 8, 2008 – President Maurice A. John Sr. today issued the following statement:

“The Seneca Nation has one of the largest private sector economies of any Native American tribe in North America. The Seneca Nation economy has been put in this position many times in our recent history. We will pursue all legal remedies to enforce our federal treaty rights to sovereignty. We will always act to protect the Seneca people’s rights because our treaties are the supreme law of the land, and this bill violates our right to free commerce.”

“Further, legislation that would adversely impact the Western New York economy by damaging a $200 million Seneca retailing sector, while violating treaties between the United States and the Nation, is certainly veto worthy.”

“The state Legislature should not try to help close its budget gap by denying the right of purchase to the Seneca Nation and its licensed retailers or by jeopardizing the jobs and livelihoods of more than 1,000 Seneca and non-Seneca families involved in our retail economy.”

“We understand the demands on state legislators seeking re-election this year, but we would note that the strong majority of Western New York voters and consumers elsewhere as well have long supported the Nation’s right to commerce and right to sell tax-immune products, while they enjoy their own freedom to shop where they choose.”

About The Seneca Nation of Indians

The Seneca Nation of Indians, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, continues to live on its three aboriginal areas in Western New York, south of Buffalo, as well as sovereign territories in Niagara Falls and Buffalo where the Nation operates resorts. The Senecas’ long history includes passing on constitutional and governmental traditions used by founders of the United States like Benjamin Franklin. Formerly a warrior nation, it traditionally controlled trade and protected the Western territories, earning the title “Keeper of the Western Door.” The Nation’s five sovereign territories are comprised of 31,095 acres along the Allegany River and the Southern Tier Expressway, known as the Allegany Territory; 22,011 acres along Cattaraugus Creek near Lake Erie known as the Cattaraugus Territory; one square mile in Cuba, called the Oil Spring Territory; 30 acres in Niagara Falls, and 9 acres in Buffalo. The Allegany Territory contains the City of Salamanca within its boundaries. Tens of thousands of acres of land in southern New York and northern Pennsylvania were taken from the Nation when the federal government built the Kinzua Dam and forcibly evicted Senecas from their land in the early 1960s.

The Nation today operates a $2 billion economy that employs more than 6,500 people, native and not. It operates and manages a variety of retail, Class 2 gaming and casino and hotel operations on its territories. The Nation’s three branches of government – executive, legislative and judicial – operate a faithkeepers school, expanded sports programs for young people, improved health and wellness centers and plans to construct a treatment center for alcohol and drug addictions. The Nation recently expanded greatly its capital building and social services operations, with new projects including improvements to roads, sewers, water treatment plants, water-supply facilities and low-income and elderly housing.

The Nation operates a “good-neighbor” policy under which it seeks to expand its relations with groups, governments, charities, private and public corporations that wish to interact collaboratively with the Nation. In 2006, the Nation spent more than $100 million with vendors, suppliers and businesses across Western New York. In addition to hundreds of union construction jobs created in the last five years, the Nation has paid New York State and local municipalities more than $175 million in shared gaming operating revenues.