AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR OUR COMMUNITY

For updates on the SNI response to Covid-19, click here to visit the Seneca Nation Coronavirus Response Hub.

To receive important updates via phone & text, click here and learn about the Regroup Messaging System.

If you experience symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath, or have any concerns about your health, call your primary care provider to be assessed. Patients of the Lionel R. John Health Center can call (716) 945-5894 and patients of the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Health Center can call (716) 532-5582.

Presidential Update 6/11/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels speaks on Tuesday’s law enforcement incident and Thursday’s Pride Month flag raising, as well as acknowledging all the high school graduates. He provides good news about COVID statistics, availability of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-17, and group dining resuming at AOA.

Presidential Update 5/20/2021

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels announces the availability of the Pfizer vaccine for ages 12-17 in early June through the Seneca Nation Health System. He also notes the recent return of the Red Jacket Peace Medal, tonight’s college graduates celebration event, and the official opening tomorrow of the new Seneca One Stop at the Buffalo Creek Territory.

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

Posted in: News & Announcements

The FCC has an Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help families and households struggling to afford internet service during the pandemic. Those who qualify and are located on qualifying Tribal lands can be eligible for up to $75 a month in assistance and can receive up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers. Check https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit to see you or your household quality. This program is not affiliated with Seneca Nation and is a Federal Communications Commission benefit program.

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Presidential Update 5/13/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels addresses a recent rise in COVID cases in our community and reminds everyone that vaccines are available through the Health System for ages 16 and over. He also details plans for the official return of the Red Jacket Peace Medal to the Seneca Nation and announces a return to full capacity in-person regular Council session in June.

Presidential Update 5/7/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels discusses a milestone in our community's response to COVID-19, and the Nation extending another show of support to our local school districts. The President also talks about an important designation by President Biden, two recent community celebrations and the May 8 meeting of Council

Presidential Update 4/30/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

President Pagels offers the latest community COVID update, including ongoing vaccine availability and response and upcoming changes to community testing. The President also discusses NYSDOT roadwork projects in Cattaraugus next week and the regular Council session on May 8.

Seneca Nation Requests Court to Stay or Vacate Judgment in Light of Key Interior Department Statement

Posted in: News & Announcements

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CATTARAUGUS TERRITORY, IRVING, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation today requested that the federal district court stay all proceedings for 45 days in response to the United States Department of the Interior’s declaration that it has yet to review the legality of the payment provisions of the Nation’s Class III gaming compact with the State of New York. 

The Department– which is empowered under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to ensure lawful gaming agreements – expressed “serious concerns” about the lawfulness of any renewal period payments in an April 15, 2021 letter issued by its Office of Indian Gaming.  The letter explains that in 2002 – when the Compact commenced – the Department did not review whether revenue sharing during the 7-year renewal period was lawful because the Compact terms did not provide for any payments beyond the original 14-year term.  The Department “caution[ed] the parties about their reliance on the [payment] terms because [the Department has] not determined that they are lawful.”  The Department invited the Nation and the State to submit the Compact for review to specifically determine whether revenue sharing payments to the State during the 7-year extension period are justified by any economic benefits provided by the State to the Nation, or whether they instead constitute an impermissible tax.  The Nation has asked the State to cooperate with it in obtaining the Department’s assessment, but the State has thus far refused to do so. 

The Nation’s Rule 60 motion to the court seeks to stay further proceedings to enforce an arbitration award against the Nation while the Department conducts its review, or to vacate the court’s prior judgment if the State refuses to cooperate with that review.  While the parties agreed under the Compact that arbitration could be used to interpret the meaning of Compact terms, only the federal government has the authority to determine whether the terms themselves are lawful.  The arbitration panel inferred that the Department of the Interior had reviewed and approved renewal period payments.  The Department’s letter now makes clear, however, that it never did so, a critical fact that was not previously before the federal District Court and Court of Appeals in considering the validity of the arbitration award. 

Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels issued the following statement in response to the State’s refusal:

“For the past several years, the Seneca Nation has fought against New York State’s effort to obtain an additional $1 billion in revenue sharing payments despite the clear language of our Compact that no payments are required.  Such payments would violate federal law because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act is crystal clear that no state shall impose a ‘tax, charge, fee, or other assessment’ without a meaningful benefit to the Indian tribe.  The State has done nothing to justify any additional payments.  Indeed, it has made a mockery of our ‘exclusivity zone’ with its three racetrack casinos and a new state-licensed facility five miles from our zone in Seneca County.

Last week, the Interior Department expressed support for the Nation’s position that further payments to the State must be reviewed for conformity with federal law and invited the parties to submit to a 45-day regulatory review.  Unfortunately, and unreasonably, the State rejected that approach.  The Nation remains committed to seeking an authoritative determination by the Interior Department as to the legality of the payments the State seeks from the Nation.  And if the State does not so agree, the Nation believes there is a legal basis to invalidate the Nation’s payment obligation.  The best course right now would be for the State and the Nation to jointly request Interior Department review so that this matter can be resolved quickly and with legal certainty for the benefit of the Seneca people, our employees and the local communities that we support.”

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Presidential Update 4/9/21

Posted in: News & Announcements

Council Co-Chair Tina Abrams, standing in for President Pagels, offers condolences for the passing of his mother, Kim Pagels. Councilor Abrams offers important updates about increased positive cases of COVID-19, extension of weekly testing events, and vaccination availability. She acknowledges the efforts for Community Fair Week and the cleanups on both territories, as well as providing reminders about wifi and broadband for the Cattaraugus Territory and April’s regular Council session.

Seneca Nation of Indians Puts Village of Portville on Notice for Violating Terms of Clean Water Act

Posted in: News & Announcements

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ALLEGANY/CATTARAUGUS TERRITORIES, N.Y. – The Seneca Nation has notified the Village of Portville, New York of its intent to take legal action following the Village’s failure to abate persistent discharges of pollutants that are negatively impacting the Ohi:yo’ (Allegheny River), which runs through the Nation’s Allegany Territory.

The Nation sent a notice of intent to initiate civil action against the Village pursuant to Section 301 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a) for discharging solids and fecal coliform, among other things, in excess of the legal limits on a regular and continuing basis from January 2015 through April 6, 2021.

As Keepers of the Western Door and historic stewards of the environment, the Nation has been both greatly dismayed and significantly harmed by Portville’s flagrant disregard for both the letter of the law and the health and wellbeing of its downstream neighbors.

“Clean, safe water is a basic human right,” said Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels. “The Seneca people have a longstanding tradition of fishing, hunting, gathering, swimming, or simply relaxing in and around the Ohi:yo’. Polluting the waters that pass through our land is nothing short of an insult to our Nation and something for which we will not stand. Ohi:yo’ in Seneca means ‘beautiful’ or ‘good’ and we intend to make sure that description is accurate.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the excessive discharges from the Village of Portville Water Treatment Plant into Dodge Creek, a tributary of the Ohi:yo’, have violated the terms of its state discharge permit for more than five years. The Seneca Nation intends to sue for all Clean Water Act violations and is seeking civil penalties for any additional violations discovered in the future – including during the course of litigation - as well as any that might occur subsequent to this notice.

In addition, the Nation will seek an injunction in an effort to halt the continued illegal discharges, as well as costs, attorney and expert witness fees, and any other additional relief that the court might determine to be appropriate.

“Due to the persistent nature of these violations, it is likely ongoing violations will occur if no legal action is taken,” said Pagels. “To date, neither the state nor federal governments has taken action to right this egregious wrong.”

“As such, the Seneca Nation has taken matters into its own hands and is doubling down on its efforts to protect and restore its waterways for generations to come,” the President continued. “Other communities both up and downstream of our Territories should take heed. The Nation plans to use every tool at its disposal to safeguard this precious resource; our very lives depend on it.”

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