New York paper profiles Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation leader
The Rome Observer is running a three-part series on Ray Halbritter, the longtime public face of the Oneida Nation of New York.

Halbritter said the death of his aunt and uncle in a fire in 1976 was one of the main reasons he entered tribal affairs. News accounts at the time cited the local fire department's refusal to provide service to tribal lands.

"The big issue that happened was the fire where my aunt and uncle (Samuel and Janice Winder) burned to death and the City of Oneida refused to send the fire department to their assistance. I was living on the territory and the fire was right across from my trailer," Halbritter told the paper.

"So out of that… I became a community leader…a leader of the Nation. I was determined to do something to change the way that we were (living)," he added.

By that time, Halbritter was already serving as the tribe's federally recognized representative. He furthered his career by going to Harvard Law School and leading the tribe into a new era through Indian gaming and the reacquisition of thousands of acres of ancestral lands.

Part two of the series, to include an overview of the tribe's businesses, will run next week.

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Death drives life for Oneida Nation leader Ray Halbritter (The Rome Observer 6/23)