Feature President

A message from President Matthew B. Pagels

Merry Christmas, Nya:wëh sgë:nö’ gagwe:göh,

It’s time for family and holiday traditions bringing everyone closer together! Christmas can mean baking, shopping, wrapping or it can be a time for giving, sharing, and celebration. However you acknowledge the season, take the time to appreciate everything that has come to you.

It’s with a heavy heart I share the passing of one our strongest leaders, Shelley Huff. Shelley dedicated her life to the Seneca people serving in all three branches of government. She held the positions of Treasurer, Councillor, and judge in both the Peacemaker Court and the Court of Appeals. Shelley was a fair, and determined leader standing against anything she felt conviction for. We will be forever grateful for her service and leadership. Our thoughts are for her brothers, Earl and Darwin, and her many family members and friends.

On to covid-19 news – all three counties, Erie, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua, have recently seen a slight decrease in the number of positive cases. The overall positivity rate is still very high in Western New York, it is currently above 9%. Our schools continue to see an increase in cases which is leading to staff shortages and some schools have returned to remote learning. As we move into the heart of holiday season we can anticipate another rise in positive cases into the New Year.

You can help keep rates down by following covid-19 safety protocols. Please remember to wear your masks, practice social distancing, sanitize your hands and most importantly stay home if feeling ill. Should you be in contact with a positive person make sure you follow the rules for quarantine and isolation.

As a reminder, you do not need to quarantine if you are fully vaccinated and do not have symptoms. It is recommended to test within 5-7 days after exposure. You should isolate if you are positive by staying away from others in the household. You should isolate for 10 days without symptoms. Should you start symptoms a few days after exposure, your isolation period starts when you discover symptoms.

Free rapid tests and PCR tests are available seven days a week at both Allegany and Cattaraugus firehalls from 3-7pm. Testing will be adjusted on Christmas Eve to 1-3 pm and New Year’s Eve to 3 – 5pm. There will be no testing on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day. By following all of these precautions we hope to keep our numbers down after the holidays.

Lastly, we recently received the decision by the court and they continue to refuse to recognize the arbitration panel outside of the compact agreed to by the Seneca Nation and New York State despite the evidence from both the Department of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission that the level of payments required by the panels decision potentially violates federal law. We will review this decision, consult with the federal government and consider all of our options moving forward.

Enjoy the holiday season! Stay warm, stay safe, stay strong – Dah ne’hoh dih ae’.

-Matthew B. Pagels