Photo: Rendering from buffalobills.com
Nya:wëh Sgë:nö’! As most people know, over the last couple months now the Seneca Nation and the Tonawanda Seneca have been keeping an eye on the proposed new Buffalo Bills stadium being built adjacent to the campus of the current Highmark Stadium.
Initially, the Nations were taken by surprise because we were not notified of work proceeding. What a lot of people do not realize, however, is that the NY SEQR process does not require the developer to contact Native Nations. Fortunately, due to the sensitivities of the site and the past issues that come with it, we have kept our eyes and ears open to any rumblings of the new stadium. We were made aware of the SEQR as soon as it was sent to New York State and we immediately prepared a letter demanding that all affected Native Nations be included in the construction planning, as our cultural sites are at risk of being destroyed.
We pointed out to New York State, Erie County, and the Bills Corporation the necessity for the Native Nations to have a seat at the table and be a part of this process. Our quick action allowed us to quickly enter this process and put forth a number of concerns about the new and old footprints of the stadium.
It is beyond debate that the Buffalo Bills stadium is an unmarked cemetery and town site for Seneca peoples and their ancestors. Since September, the Seneca Nation has worked diligently with the other Native Nations and parties, and their various partners, on a variety of needs and outcomes for the new stadium.
Most importantly, the Seneca Nation is part of these ongoing discussions. Although, not entirely worked out, we are in the process of developing a set of protocols which will aid in avoiding final resting locations and cultural sites that may be encountered.
Last month, the contracting cultural resource management team was on location conducting a preliminary survey with Seneca monitors on site to ensure no materials were uncovered. Rest assured, we will continue to monitor this situation to ensure that the cultural sites and history of the Seneca Nation are protected.