Seneca Nation of Indians Transfers Casino Exclusivity Funds to New York State

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CATTARAUGUS/ALLEGANY TERRITORIES - The Seneca Nation of Indians today transferred 349.6 million dollars to New York State in a special ceremony including Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder, Sr. and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Held at the Seneca Niagara Events Center, Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel, Niagara Falls, NY, the Seneca's disbursement included $139,860,000 for the host municipalities and $209,790,000 to the state of New York to resolve the Seneca's concerns about the status of the terms of its original gaming compact with the state. The host cities include Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Salamanca, New York.

"We have been very successful building a billion dollar gaming business right here in Western New York, with our Seneca Niagara, Seneca Allegany and Seneca Buffalo Creek facilities," said Seneca Nation President Barry Snyder, Sr. "In the process, we have created thousands of jobs for Senecas and non-Senecas alike, and have become an important business partner for several local companies, thereby supporting thousands of additional jobs in the local economy."

"By working together and both sides coming to the table in the spirit of collaboration and respect, the State and Seneca Nation of Indians were able to end years of dispute and reach an agreement that is a major victory for all parties involved," Governor Cuomo said.

"Today we are delivering a much needed payment to the City of Niagara Falls, restoring funding that will be a critical help to the local community. This agreement marks the beginning of a new chapter between the Seneca Nation of Indians, the City of Niagara Falls, and New York State, built on trust and mutual respect and I thank President Snyder for his partnership."

In 2002, the Seneca Nation signed a Gaming Compact with the State of New York, under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That historic compact required the Nation and the State to cooperate in the establishment of three "class III gaming" casino facilities.

"For fifty years I have been involved in helping lead this great Nation. As a Nation we have overcome great adversity and have rejoiced with much success. We have conflicts and debates but in the end we have to work together to move our future forward as one," said Snyder.

Seneca Nation Of Indians Launches Seneca Transit System

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Seneca Nation of Indians (SNI) is launching the inter-territory public bus, Seneca Transit System (STS), on Monday, July 29. The bus will provide affordable public transportation for communities of the Southern Tier. The line begins at Seneca Gaming and Entertainment Bingo in Irving and ends at The Turtle Pit in Steamburg, with 13 other scheduled stops along the route including SNI government buildings, community buildings, Shop & Save in Gowanda, Cattaraugus County Building in Little Valley and Grand Center Station in Salamanca. STS will pick of riders anywhere along the route and offers route deviation services for those who cannot get to the bus stops.

Seneca Transit System operates Monday through Friday, 6:30 am to 7:00 pm and fares are $1 per zone. Schedules and helpful hints can be found at www.sni.org/sts or by phone 716-945-1790 ext. 3055.

"With the launch of Seneca Transit System, the Seneca Nation of Indians is providing a much-needed service for our community and our neighbors at an affordable cost," said President Barry E. Snyder, Sr.

Seneca Nation of Indians has partnered with First Transit of Cuba, NY to bring Seneca Transit System to the Southern Tier. First Transit currently operates the OATS busses and Allegany County Transit.

24th Annual Seneca Casino Veterans Pow Wow

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24th Annual Seneca Casino Veterans Pow Wow is being held at Vet's Park on July 20th & 21st.  Grand Entry is at NOON both days. Over 50 vendors!! Over $73,000 in dancer/drum prize money!! Come join us this year whether it will be your 24th time or your 1st time. All Nations and Nationalities welcome. We'll see you at the Pow Wow!!

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Indianpreneurship Business Training Workshop

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This workshop will cover business concepts indispensable for anyone starting up or running a small business. Instructors will also identify and help participants avoid common pitfalls. The training will provide comprehensive information on topics important to aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners related to business planning, access to capital, basic bookkeeping, human resources, problem solving and marketing a small business.  If you have interest in attending the workshop on July 9th and 10th, 9am-4pm, at the Allegany Casino please call Wayne Awald, SBIP Business Advisor at 716-532-4900 x5139 or email Wayne.Awald@sni.org to register.

CDCI - Perry and Michigan Improvements

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Briefly, the Nation teamed up with the Sabres, Savarino Company and HSBC to form the "Cobblestone District Connector Initiative" to transform Perry street between Buffalo Creek Casino and the First Niagara Center into a signature, gateway corridor, including complete redesign of the street with new lighting, new sidewalks, landscaping, etc.

Our team was just awarded about $250,000 from Mayor Brown's Buffalo Building Reuse Fund to complete the design for the street, as part of $1.25 million awarded to our project, Genesee Street and Chippewa Street (see article link below).

Williams stays calm in Madness

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As reported in the Buffalo News on March 14, 2013.

We are in the middle of March Madness, which means when a horn goes off at the end of a postseason basketball game, things get crazy. In a way similar to college conference title games, high school playoff victories at this time of year mean that you will reach another level of the state tournament, that your season will continue while your opponent's will end.

When that horn goes off, madness follows. Players run onto the court. Teammates sprint into each other's arms. There are hugs between coaches and players and managers. And it is far from quiet.

And then there's Zed Williams.

Williams is the senior leader of Silver Creek, one of the state's best lacrosse players who is outstanding on the basketball court as well. After the Black Knights clinched their first trip to Glens Falls for the state final four with a regional victory over Mynderse at Rochester's Blue Cross Arena, he walked to the bench, put on an orange bracelet that a coach was holding for him, and spent a few minutes by himself before joining a quiet, meaningful celebration with his team.

The orange bracelet bears the name and number of Carney Johnson, No. 28, who was a lacrosse teammate of Williams' on the Six Nations Rebels, champions of the prestigious Ontario Lacrosse Association Junior B league. The Rebels won the title Aug. 10, 2012. Four days earlier, Johnson had taken his own life.

Williams has played with the memory of "C.J." all season.

"I carry it with me each and every day, when I wake up and when I go to bed," said Williams. "Or when I'm in school, writing things on my paper. It's a mental thing for me. He's not just with me, he's with all of us still. I had some pretty special moments with him in the locker room. I had the pleasure of sitting by him in the locker room, me, him and my brother Zack," who was two years ahead of Zed at Silver Creek.

"I guess you could say I've played with him [this season]. … I probably never said some stuff to him that I should have."

"Every game he's been like this," Silver Creek coach Rob Genco said of an emotional Williams after Silver Creek defeated Middle Early College for the overall Section VI Class C title. "Zeddie feels like he should have tried to do something … that if he only could have talked to him."

This is a special player, who has a special relationship with his coach. Genco met Zed when he was a fourth-grader in Genco's elementary school gym class. The teacher and coach has offered his help to his students: some school lessons, some life lessons.

Zed has been extraordinary in that he has not only sought out that help, but he has become a role model himself. When Genco made a concerted effort to sit at a lunch table with students with disabilities, Zed asked why. Then he decided that he, too, would join his coach and the students at the table. Actions like that have had other teammates and classmates following Zed's example.

"Then it's happening with other guys, because he's the answers to the test," Genco said. "They watch the way he acts. … He walks on someone else's campus and there's garbage on the ground, and he picks it up and carries it to throw it out."

Time out. This is where I had to cut off the coach's story to tell him one of my own.

After Silver Creek defeated Middle Early College at Buffalo State, I asked Middle College coach Randall Rich about Williams. The first thing he said didn't have anything to do with basketball.

"Today, as we're pulling up on the bus, Silver Creek doesn't see us. Zeddie Williams is the last one off their bus. He walks over to the corner, where there's a crushed can on the ground, just laying there. The dude picks it up, walks it over to a trash can, nobody's looking … and he throws it away. Talk about, 'Act like your grandma's watching - even when she's not - be a good person all the time.' … If you'd have to pick someone that you had to lose to, I'll take that loss all day."

Then Rich summed up Williams' effect on the game.

"He killed us. He killed us. Just destroyed us."

Williams certainly does that, but, like those postgame celebrations, he doesn't come out and hit you over the head with it. His gait, just like on the lacrosse field, is a calm, deliberate one as he dictates the pace of play and the positioning of the defenders around him. Instead of cradling a white ball in his short stick, he is bouncing a big orange one, with his off arm similarly locked in the right angle that will protect against a defender (while not getting called for a ward in lacrosse).

The 6-foot-2 senior has a strong, wide-strided dribble that enables him to get to the basket quickly, where he can score or find teammates - either inside (6-foot-7 sophomore Bill Brooks) or out (three-point shooting threats Steve Marcey, Kaine Kettle and Brennan White).

"He's a playmaker," said Kettle. "Teams are worried about him, double-teaming him, and it leaves us open."

I asked Kettle, who is a lacrosse standout as well, if that in both sports he is similarly trying to find the right spot on the field so that Williams will help set him up for a goal, or a basket. "Exactly."

There is an unteachable brilliance in the way he orchestrates on offense, in the same way he does on the lacrosse field, where as a junior he set the New York State points scoring record (surpassing Casey Powell). He will play lacrosse at national power Virginia.

"When you watch them play lacrosse," says Marcey, who plays baseball in the spring, "it's pass after pass after pass, then it's in the net, like tick-tack-toe, and that's the way we play on the basketball court."

Furthering the success is a trust among the teammates, all of whom are Seneca Nation members who live on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. It is a genuine love for each other, one that is fostered unabashedly by Genco, one that has been returned by the community in this undefeated season, one of just two in the state.

When Silver Creek returned from Rochester, fire companies from Sunset, Irving and Hanover were among those who welcomed the Black Knights home. "The escort was a mile long," said Genco. "It started at Jim White Chevrolet and went past Tim Horton's to the Thruway.

"When we got here, there were 300 people waiting. We just opened up the cafeteria and had the whole town here just loving the guys up."

"Hopefully we can get it done," Williams said of the Black Knights' trip this weekend. "Everyone is proud. I'm sure it'll be upsetting if we don't, but that's not the most important thing … hopefully we can make them more proud."

At this point, I'm not quite sure if that's possible.

* Four of the five starting players from Silver Creek High School are enrolled Senecas including: Zed Williams, Brennan White, Kaine Kettle, and Billy Brooks.

Seneca Nation Identifies Major Shortcomings of Competition in Fight for Federal Hydro License

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 Tribal Lands currently used for Seneca Pumped Storage Project

CATTARAUGUS/ALLEGANY TERRITORIES - FirstEnergy, the operator of the Seneca Pumped Storage Project near the Kinzua Dam in northwestern Pennsylvania, lacks the necessary property rights to successfully operate the Project, the Seneca Nation of Indians asserted in an official submission filed on Monday with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  The Seneca Nation made this submission in connection with the relicensing proceedings before the federal agency for the hydropower generation project.  The Seneca Nation and FirstEnergy are both competing for the federal license to run the facility.

 "FirstEnergy does not have and has never had the Seneca Nation's consent to use our sovereign tribal lands for power generation, " said Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder, Sr. "It's just another example of outsiders taking Indian property rights and using them for personal gain without properly compensating the Indians," said Snyder.

The Seneca Pumped Storage Project is located along the Allegheny River and Reservoir in the Seneca's Allegany Territory, southern New York, and northern Pennsylvania.  The Project pumps water from the Allegheny Reservoir to an upper reservoir and releases the water from the upper reservoir back into the Allegheny River and Reservoir, generating hydropower in the process.  The license of the current operator, FirstEnergy, will expire in 2015.  In connection with its efforts to regain the federal license, FirstEnergy is seeking to condemn the Nation's sovereign land rights as part of the regulatory process.  Under the Seneca Nation's 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, its lands are protected and not subject to ordinary condemnation for power development.

In 1938 and 1941, the U.S. Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build Kinzua Dam, which created the Allegheny Reservoir, for flood control and water quality enhancement in the Allegheny River Basin.  The dam was designed to flood 21,175 acres of land, including 9,978 acres of the Nation's lands in its Allegany Territory.  In 1964, the U.S. Congress authorized condemnation of limited easements for water flowage in some of these Nation lands for flood control and related federal purposes, but it did not include power development by a non-federal entity.

In 1965 the Federal Power Commission, FERC's predecessor, licensed the non-federal Seneca Pumped Storage Project to use the Allegheny Reservoir as its water source. The original recipient of the license in the 1960s, and now First Energy as their successor, did not seek or obtain from the Nation the property rights necessary for its operation.

"We are presently considering what remedies to seek for FirstEnergy's past and current unauthorized use of our lands and any potential environmental harm it has caused; fixing a wrong and taking back what rightfully belongs to the Seneca Nation," said Snyder.

The Nation holds its Allegany Territory under the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which was signed by President George Washington.  

Getting Healthy Together One Ton at a Time

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As part of my presidential agenda, the Seneca Nation is taking some very positive steps in creating a healthier community for our people. I am very encouraged and excited about the new Healthy First Nations, "Food is our Medicine" Garden Program that is being launched. And now I'm even more pleased to talk about the amazing progress taking shape for our people through the Seneca Nation Weight Loss Challenge, an eight-week healthy living program with the goal to lose one ton of weight.

Similar to the popular Biggest Looser, 56, five-man teams from both Cattaraugus and Allegany, have been working to develop healthy eating habits and introduce a healthy approach to exercise into their daily lives. Each team member had to sign a waiver to be in the program requiring them to follow healthy-living decisions and not try and lose weight through drastic or trendy weight loss programs.

To date and in just two weeks, the teams have lost a collective total of 2,164 lbs., over one ton already!

Through a participation registration fee and donations, more than $14,000 in prizes will be awarded to the teams that lose the highest percentage of body fat, not the highest total of lost pounds. This allows the teams to compete on a level playing field depending on the female/male make-up of each team. The individual who loses the highest percentage of body fat will receive a cash prize. Participants are weighed in every Monday.

Under the guidance of Tani Wojcinski in Cattaraugus and Andrea John in Allegany, teams and/or individuals are taking advantage of the many exercise and personal training programs offered at both of our recreational centers. Each team was inspired to come up with its own name to empower them on to victory. Just some of the team names include: "Dude, Where's my Gut?," "Idle on the Couch No More," "Love Handlers," "Tootsie Rolls," "Veggie Butts," "Back Fat Warriors," "The Muffin Tops," "Cornbread Crew," "Waist Removal," and  "Mission Slimpossible."

The Seneca Nation Weight Loss Challenge program will also be sponsoring the first Seneca Diabetes Foundation (SDF) 5K in March to celebrate their success. The date is Saturday, March 9. Registration will be from 9am-10:15am, with the race beginning at 10:30am. A $10 donation fee will be required with proceeds to benefit SDF. A healthy lunch will be provided and the first 30 paid registrants will receive a race t-shirt. Contact Tani Wojcinski (716) 532-4900 Ext.5704 for more information.

- President Barry E. Snyder, Sr. 

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Seneca Weight Loss Challenge participants burning calories during Water in Motion class that takes place at the CCC on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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