The Seneca Nation of Indians recently held a rally at Niagara Square in Buffalo to voice their demands for a reasonable new gaming compact with New York State. The Nation’s members have expressed frustrations at the state’s handling of the ongoing conflict over casino payments, which has resulted in Albany freezing the Nation’s banking accounts.
It has been a few years since the Seneca Nation halted its gaming sharing payments to the state. In January 2022, however, Matthew Pagels, the President of the Nation, stated that that would pay its dues, but the multimillion-dollar arrears payment was subsequently blocked by the Nation as its council had not yet given the go-ahead. Once this happened the state took the severe measure of ensuring the Nation could not access its accounts.
No Justice, No Peace
At the rally, Leslie Logan, one of the founding members of the Mothers of the Seneca Nation, and the organiser of the demonstration spoke out against Gov. Hochul’s decision to freeze the accounts, claiming that the Nation has been left in a difficult position where it is unable to perform basic functions. She explained that those who desperately need medicine and other necessities were being placed in jeopardy.
Other attendees at the 75-person Seneca Rally for Economic Justice also shared their stories of difficulty, with one individual stating that both of their parents had not received a paycheck and that this move by the state is an aggressive pressure tactic that has created severe consequences for regular people as services like public transportation grind to a halt.
Logan went on to say that she and the others gathered were protesting economic injustice against the tribe by the state and that a new gaming compact needs to be formulated.
She specified that the Nation wants tax breaks, state subsidies, investments, and other incentives. A sign brandished by one person at the rally read “Seneca Economic Footprint: 4,500 Jobs, $2.3 Billion; NO State Subsidies, NO Investment.”
Another member of the Seneca Mothers, Odie Porte, complained that while the tribe had invested over $2.3 billion in the State, they had seen no returns.
Several groups within the tribe, including The Mothers of the Nation, protested the tribe president’s January commitment to pay the $564.8 million in casino revenue owed to the state. Those opposed argued that the payment had not been authorized by the Tribal Council and that it was, therefore, void.
New York is reportedly funding a stadium for the Buffalo Bills with the Seneca Nation’s money, a development that has made the tribe extremely unhappy and prompted it to launch a TV and Radio media campaign, publicly lambasting the state for its decision.