The Seneca Nation owns and operates the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in Buffalo, New York. Photo: Seneca Gaming Corporation

John Kane: Nothing is simple for tribes when dealing with New York

The state of New York is still counting on gaming revenues from the Seneca Nation to support its budget and radio show host John Karhiio Kane (Mohawk) wonders whether officials are trying to intimidate the tribe or are just plain ignorant:
First, let’s put the simple facts out there: in all of the legalese, questions of fairness, who is regulating who, what is permitted and what is agreed upon; the one thing that is definitive and indisputable is that there is no mention of revenue sharing payments beyond 14 years in the Gaming Compact between the Seneca Nation and the State of New York. The other thing that is not in dispute is that 14 years of the revenue sharing provision of that Gaming Compact concluded in December of 2016. So when Seneca leaders learned that State and municipal budget proposals were including revenue sharing payments as part of their 2017 budgets, there was obvious concern.

The first question was, why? Was this just a simple mistake? A carry forward of a revenue flow that just seemed as normal and inevitable as taxes? The Senecas are no strangers to conflicts with New York but this clearly should not be another one and this was definitely NOT a tax. This is not about trying to interpret old documents, treaties, wampum belts or even sovereignty issues. The language is clear and the payments were for 14 years. That’s it! So really all that was needed was to let the State and those municipalities know that the last payment was going out at the end of March for that final payment that completed the Seneca obligation that ended last December.

But nothing is ever easy or simple for Native people when dealing with New York State or the federal government for that matter. Several mainstream journalists even called out the State for their blunder and questioned how such a mistake could be made. The Buffalo News on one end of the State and the New York Post on the other had articles written by individuals who took the time to read the terms of the compact and came to the obvious conclusion that the revenue sharing term was done.

Read More on the Story:
John Kane: NYS Ignores Senecas and Budgets In Gaming Revenue (Indian Country Media Network 5/2)

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