Senator to Senecas: Fight for Your Land, Protect Your Families

While testifying in front of a Senate panel in Manhattan today, Seneca Nation Tribal Councillor JC Seneca stood by the nation's argument that the Treaty of 1842 prohibits the state from taxing them.

Testimony also touched on the Seneca's casinos, which the nation says is one of the only bright spots in New York's economy. Seneca Senior Policy Advisor Rob Odawi Porter alluded to a report by the Empire Center for New York that says New York has suffered the largest loss of residents of any state in the nation. 1.5 million people moved out of New from 2000 to 2008.

"The Seneca Nation is not going anywhere," Porter said "We've been in our territory for a thousand years and we're going to be there for another thousand. And yet when thousands of non-natives leave Western New York every year to go elsewhere, it hurts us. It hurts our neighborhoods, it hurts our communities, it hurts our businesses, it hurts everything. And this is something that is not unknown to you."

Senator Martin Golden of Brooklyn argued that the Senecas should want to pay taxes to help out the state.

"You and all (tribes) should be able to pick up and be responsible enough to be able to share across this great state – its 19 and a half million people – when it comes to taxes," Golden said.

Senator Eric Adams, who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, said the injustice is not the Senecas not paying taxes.

"The major injustice is what's happened to the indigenous people of this country," Adams said. "That's the major injustice. You have the right to defend your land. You have the right to defend your families. You have the right to defend your people. And the only way we're going to resolve this issue is when this country (observes) and respects your rights."

"I admire you," Adams continued as applause started and continued to grow. "Fight for your land. Protect your families."

The hearing is still going on as of 4:15 p.m.

from watching the hearing


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