Feature President

A message from President Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.


In response to community members who have asked what has been done since the Covid-19 impacted our Communities:

On November, 2018, Seneca voters elected to the Office of President for our great Seneca Nation. A lot has happened in the last two years that our Executives and Council have addressed and made decisions on as well as the progress made by our Nation departments. Most recently, the Covid-19 crisis that we all have been affected by continues to present us with challenges that we face head on and do our best to provide solutions with the utmost health and safety guidelines. Although the Seneca Nation Territories are still under a declared State of Emergency, we have accomplished a lot.

It is my intent to respond to community members who have asked what has the Seneca Nation done since Covid-19 appeared and impacted all of our lives. My Office has done a review of activities throughout the last 6 months under this Administration which is listed below:

• President Armstrong held several Covid-19 Messages on the Seneca Nation website (sni.org) updating Seneca Members on important issues in conjunction with Seneca Media & Communications Department
• President Armstrong issued a Stay-at-Home Order on March 19, 2020, that was released on both territories on April 11, 2020 with restrictions
• A Covid-19 Incidence Response Task Force was quickly created to address related issues
• Nation applied for and received awards from the CARES Act, FEMA and other Covid-19 grant funding.
• The Seneca Nation applied and received $47,430.00 on March 25 to offset the costs of providing meals to our Elders.
• The Seneca Nation Health Systems received $131,711.00 to offset costs related to Covid-19 testing.
• Upon entering the Administrative and Health Buildings, temperatures are taken and questions regarding heath status
• Nation essential workers remained at their worksite to serve the Seneca Members practicing safety guidelines
• Departments held drive-thru pickup of safety products
• Departments held drive-thru pickup of lunch/dinner distributions
• Departments held drive-thru pickup of produce distributions
• Initiated a 14-day self-quarantine in place for members who have travelled outside our immediate area.
• The Seneca Nation GIS Department put together a Coronavirus response
website Hub including links to available resource available from local counties

Council Meetings
• Initially made available to the Seneca Public via GoToMeetings
• Opened to the Seneca Public with limited seating and continuation of the online sessions.

• Annuities Checks continued to be distributed
• Disability Checks continued to be distributed
• Elder Checks continue to be distributed at the same amount
• A Health-Incentive Payment made to all Seneca Members
• Burial Fund continues to be in place
• The Seneca Nation Federal Credit Union Offices have reopened on both territories with customers using mandatory masks.

Community & Economic Development
• For future economic ventures, we now have the land known as Hanover field and a one-acre parcel of land adjacent to our Casino for the construction of Buffalo Creek One Stop.
• Highbanks Campground opened for the season
• After a temporary suspension, Fishing Season officially opened
• On Monday, June 1st, 2020 the application period opened for Hemp Producer Licensing
• Finalized construction of the Allegany Firehall
• Seneca Emergency Medical Services Team created on both Territories offering the highest level of prehospital care during a medical emergency
• Seneca Nation Emergency Management established a strategic voice messaging service called Regroup Messaging System intended to provide SN Employees and Members with broadcasted messages in the event of emergencies, closings, delays and health/safety messages
• Broadband Internet coming to the Cattaraugus Territory
• Seneca Nation received an EPA Grant which will be used to replace the well house at Sullivan Hollow and upgrade the water treatment system to meet all water quality standards
• SNIEDC voted to defer loan payments for the months of May and June
• An extensive rebuilding of a four-mile stretch of the NYS Thruway that runs through the Cattaraugus Territory was completed
• Nation Housing Authority announced 9 new Homeowners and 2 more still being built on each territory.
• Seneca Nation Housing Authority waived the monthly rent in all SNHA rentals and deferred Homebuyer payments temporarily
• Seneca Nation Mortgage Program differed monthly mortgage payments (except for insurance payments) temporarily
• On Territory Community Centers open with safety guidelines
• WGWE remained open

• Seneca Nation President’s Office held the annual Seneca Elder’s Summer Event as a drive-thru distribution with safety protocols on both Allegany and Cattaraugus territories.
• AOA Department remains open with essential workers and home delivered meals
• Initiated a new source of Elder funding via the Seneca Enhanced Elder Division (S.E.E.D.) to be managed by our AOA departments.
• Personal Emergency Response System available for Elders
• AOA issues Farmers Market Coupons for Elders

Education & Training
• Seneca Nation Education Department along with Employment and Training Departments are open
• Our Seneca Nation Education Departments and local School Districts are currently networking on Back to School Plans along with addressing the unique needs that College students are facing.
• Our Seneca Libraries have reopened with limited services
• Allegany Training Department is hosting a “Build your Portfolio” series of workshops from August through September.
• Recognition Events were held for graduates from High School, College and GED programs in coordination with the Education Departments
• Recognitions Events were also held for Construction Training graduates

Substance Abuse Prevention
• Executives and Councilors were invited to attend a meeting with Seneca Mothers Against Drugs, a group of community members formed to address issues related to drug use on Cattaraugus Territory.
• My office, as Seneca Nation President, issued an Executive Order excluding a known drug dealer from our territories and an Exclusion Order banning another person from territory for aiding and abetting.
• Seneca Nation is working in partnership with Crime Stoppers WNY who address illegal drug activity on numerous counties and they have an anonymous tip line and offers cash for information leading to arrests (716-867-6161).

Racial Matters
• As President, actively addressed those entities that continue to show racial prejudices (Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, Red Raiders etc.)

• Addressed Mayor Smith of Gowanda regarding a discharge of untreated sewage released into Thatcher Brook which flows into the Cattaraugus Creek and seeking resolution
• Our Clinics have remained open with safety guidelines and all patients required to wear face masks
• Behavioral Health Departments continued to offer around the clock services
• Child and Family stayed open to provide services
• Seneca Strong program continued to offer services and assistance
• Veggie Bucks are available to patients to use at Famers Markets

• Regularly scheduled service for the Seneca Transits system is now active and passenger must wear masks. (schedule: www.senecatransit.com)
• There is a Distracted Driving Deterrent that detects mobile use and reminds drivers not to text while driving that can be seen around our territories.

• Seneca Gaming Corporation Stakeholders Meetings held via Virtual Online GoToMeeting
• Our Class II Gaming (Seneca Gaming and Entertainment) operations reopened on June 18, 2020.
• Our Class III Gaming Operations continue to remain open for everyone over 21 with safety guidelines and practices.
• Hotels are open except for patrons from Restricted States at this time
• Seneca Casinos have postponed live shows

• Seneca Language Lessons held by Allegany Language Director via Skype
• Seneca Nation Education/Language & Culture program developed a YouTube channel pertaining to language and Culture Camp

Food and General Welfare Services
• Tribal Advocate Programs are operational
• Iroquois Post#1587 received a grant to assist Seneca Veterans and coordinates with the Seneca Nation Veterans Affairs Office
• The Tribal Advocate Programs have a designated computer/printer for Members to use when applying for NY Social Services (by appointment)
• Disability Program Offices are open and can be reached
• Gakwi:yo:h Farms continues their operations and most recently welcomed twenty-five Red Angus to a former dairy farm on Allegany Territory. They also grew 30 acres of corn and other vegetables. Also maintain their 52 bison located in Machias. They also host a mobile Farmers Market every Tuesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on both territories

• Provides virtual tours and short videos on-line

Emergency Management
• Due to high volume of calls they established a process for missed calls and set aside the number 716-531-3013 for that use.

Seneca Nation General Election
• The general election is still set to take place on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 between 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories.

I want to thank and commend all the people who have pitched in and continue to help during this time and I apologize if an activity has been left out because I know it takes everyone pulling together to keep us healthy and safe. All efforts are needed and appreciated.

I realize that stability is very important at this time and I assure you that we as Seneca Nation representatives continue to work on your behalf. Thank you to Seneca Nation Treasurer Matt Pagels, Seneca Nation Clerk Bethany Johnson, Seneca Nation Tribal Council, Nation Departments and all those in the Seneca Communities who are helping one another during this challenging time.

Please take the necessary precautions to stay healthy. Take Care of One Another and Be Safe.