Sending out a special CONGRATULATIONS to all of our 2020 Seneca high school and higher education graduates. I realize your ceremonies have had to be adjusted to work around the COVID-19 global pandemic we are all facing; but nonetheless, I hope you have been celebrating your accomplishments. Now, on to the next phase in your life. Blaze your own trails and make your communities proud!
Iroquois Post #1587, on the Cattaraugus Territory, recently received a grant from the NDN Collective COVID-19 Response Project. The project is designed to provide immediate relief, provide gap services and distribute resources for veterans whom have suffered economic hardship during this global pandemic. The Iroquois Post #1587 has developed a food pantry and will team up with the Seneca Nation Veterans Affairs Office to coordinate deliveries of food packages to any of our veterans whom are in need, at no cost to the vets. For additional information, or to see if you are eligible, please contact the Seneca Nation Veterans Affairs Office at (716) 532-4900, X5536 or Iroquois Post #1587 at (716) 532-1587.
The Allegany Community Center and the Cattaraugus Community Center both opened on June 22nd, on a modified basis. For the time being, only SNI community members will be allowed to use the facilities, provided they participate in prescribed safety measures upon entering the buildings. For safety reasons, we’re also asking that there be no loitering in the community centers. Anyone interested in using these facilities may call and book a one hour time slot: for Allegany, call (716) 945-8119; and for Cattaraugus, call (716) 532-8450. The outdoor swimming pools at the ACC and the Saylor Building both opened on July 1st, from 11:30am to 7:00pm. The William “Gumps” Abrams Memorial outdoor lacrosse box, in Steamburg, turned their lights back on for nightly access, on June 22nd.
Also, the Steamburg Community Center Fitness & Gym (SCC) re-opened on July 6th, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 9:00am to 5:30pm. By calling (716) 354-4665, you may reserve a one-hour time slot. Highbanks Campgound opened their swimming pool, beginning June 26th, from 12:00pm to 8:00pm. For more information, please call (716) 354-2177. Bear in mind, with any of our community services and/or enterprise’s opening protocol, we must all continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing of 6-feet apart from all persons whom do not live in our homes. Although our community centers will be operating with adjusted hours, our Summer Youth Program for 2020, has been cancelled. We must not risk our children’s health and well-being, in these unprecedented and uncontrollable times; especially since new information is uncovered every day, about how this virus effects children.
If you’ve driven around in the Sunfish area lately, you may have noticed a large field of white corn sprouting up. This particular piece of property was the homestead of the late Eugene John, Sr., prior to the Kinzua Dam removal and has not been farmed for over 50 years. Gakwi:yo:h Farms has leased the property and has begun to revitalize large scale agriculture on our Allegany territory, once again. The corn seed they have planted is over 100 years old. During this time of COVID-19, the farm became an essential department for the nation and will continue to grow and distribute fresh produce and protein to our communities. This is their busiest time of the year, next to maple season. Gakwi:yo:h Farms also has a fresh produce mobile food market. They will be set up on Tuesdays at the Allegany Seneca Strong parking lot from 11:00am to 1:00pm; and on Thursdays at the Saylor Building from 11:00am to 1:00pm. If you are interested in volunteering at the farm or learning more about their multi-faceted agriculture operations, please call: (716) 532-3194.
Ever since this global pandemic hit, it has forced some of our departments and enterprises to become more creative and re-engineer how they deliver services, etc. One way that the Seneca Iroquois National Museum has adjusted to their temporary closure, is by providing virtual tours and short videos of our museum, on-line. You can find out more information by visiting their Facebook page at: Seneca-Iroquois National Museum. Also, if you visit their website, at: www.senecamuseum.org, you will find their on-line shop. In the shop, you can order anything from beadwork to stone or antler carvings. They also have beautiful cornhusk dolls, water drums, horn rattles, jewelry, original artwork, books and select attire. To find out more, please call: (716) 277-5580.
Please know that we will continue to work towards re-opening services and programs in the safest possible ways, so our lives can all return to a safe normal. We should all remember that, while our neighbors are in varying phases of re-opening their communities, this virus has not gone away. Remember to check on our elders, wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering in public and maintain six feet of distance from anyone who does not live in your household.
Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.