It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as President for our great Seneca Nation and Members these last two years. During my previous term as President (2002-2004) we opened up the Seneca Niagara Casino which was a very exciting time and gave us the ability to be able to provide services and opportunities for our Nation and its Members. This Presidential term has been met with challenges that we have never faced before – COVID 19. These last eight months have been a time where decisions had to be made based on science and data for the health and safety of our Seneca Members and Territories. Facing the possibility of financial collapse when all of our Gaming facilities needed to shut down, we as a Seneca Nation Government pulled together to ensure that services would not stop.
I need to acknowledge and thank Treasurer Pagels, Clerk Bethany Johnson, Seneca Nation Council and all the members of the Seneca Nation COVID19 Response Team who have all worked long hours from the very beginning to address the national pandemic and how it has impacted our communities. I also want to thank our Seneca Nation front line essential workers who continued their employment to ensure that services would not be disrupted. Unfortunately, we have sadly lost Seneca members due to COVID19 and we while we continue to be mindful that the virus is still active, we also realize that we need to proceed with daily activities carefully.
Throughout these last two years we have made progress in many areas of our Government and our Economy. Opening up a new Buffalo One Stop next to our Buffalo Creek Casino is sure to be a success as a revenue generating entity. Our plans for the recently purchased Hanover Site at Irving also promises to be an exciting project. We have established a Seneca Nation Drug Task Force to address problems that exist on our Territories which include Exclusion Orders of 3 known drug dealers. We established a Hemp Department and are taking applications from growers. The Seneca Nation has also issued an RFP for a technical partner to develop a medical cannabis program on Territories. We were also able to reach an agreement with the NYS Thruway Authority regarding long-needed repairs on the thruway portion that crosses Cattaraugus Territory. Regarding COVID19, we’ve held numerous drive-thrus for our Seneca Territories distributing community masks, sanitizer, produce, senior picnic and other items, Beginning in March we were still able to address Seneca Government business via virtual Seneca Nation Council meetings and have now reopened for Seneca Public attendance. Many Seneca Nation departments and activities had to close early on, however, we have since been able to reopen with safety guidelines. Gladly, we have also been able to reopen all of our Gaming facilities with safety protocols and many of our customers have returned.
COVID19 has presented us with some tough times, but we realize that united, we will get through this together and stay Seneca Nation Strong. We, as a community, will continue to help take care of one another, our families, Elders, community members, co-workers and neighbors. We will not succumb to complacency rather we will be optimistic in our plans and work for the future.
Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr., President
Seneca Nation of Indians