Seneca Nation: State Must Reject Invenergy’s Attempt To Develop Site Of Cultural, Spiritual & Historical Significance

Solar Company’s Effort to Ignore Concerns Cited by Nation, State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historical Preservation Cites Previous Injustices and Cannot Stand The Seneca Nation has called on the state Department of Public Service (DPS) to reject efforts by Invenergy to ignore concerns raised by both the Nation and the State Office of Parks, Recreation and History Preservation (OPRHP) and proceed with siting a significant solar project that threatens to destroy a landscape rich with Seneca, Haudenosaunee and American history.

Specifically, Invenergy noted in a June 14, 2021, letter to the state that is seeking to proceed with locating the Horseshoe Solar project on the site of the Canawaugus Reservation, despite the fact that OPRHP in a March 2, 2021, letter specifically stated its preference “for the avoidance and protection of cultural resources” and recommendation that portions of the project that overlap the Canawaugus site be eliminated.

Adding insult to injury, Invenergy is using as a rationale for its unconscionable effort an outdated recommendation by OPRHP to allow an invasive and harmful gravel mining operation on the Canawaugus Reservation. The Nation has repeatedly highlighted – and strenuously objected to – the fact that it was neither informed of nor involved the decision to allow that operation, which has caused significant damage to the site that can never be repaired or remediated.

Invenergy’s argument that this site has already been damaged by previous aggressors does not justify its further impairment by the Horseshoe project, and to argue as such reflects a callous disregard on the part of the company for the importance of treaty lands granted to the Nation.

“The OPRHP’s recommendation regarding the Horseshoe Solar project is clear, and it is critical that past injustices do not dictate future action by the state,” Seneca Nation President Matthew B. Pagels said. “Invenergy’s blatant disregard of the importance of treaty land to the Seneca Nation, as well as OPRHP’s opinion on the matter demonstrates that the company does not, in fact, wish to be a partner or good corporate citizen, despite its claims to the contrary.”

“Far too much damage to Indigenous lands, history and culture has been done to date, and the state in this case has the opportunity to do the right thing,” Pagels continued. “Protecting the Canawaugus Reservation will not undo decades of mistreatment and disinvestment that the Nation has suffered, but it will send a message that a new day has dawned, and the rights and desires of Native people are finally being taken into consideration and recognized.”

The Nation joins OPRHP in requesting that portions of the Horseshoe Solar project located within the Canawaugus Reservation be immediately removed from inclusion in the plan. If allowed to proceed, this project will only continue a pattern of historical destruction to this historically sacred land – an outcome that will not be tolerated by the Seneca people.