Feature President

A message from President Rickey L. Armstrong Sr.


I suppose that saying about winter coming in like a lamb and going out like a lion might be true for this part of the country this year. Wondering if we got enough snow for our snow snake crew to build another track. Doesn’t seem like there has been enough snow for snow snake games this winter.

I have some updated news on our compact negotiations. We held two educational and informative meetings – one on both Cattaraugus and Allegany territories. The presentation’s primarily focused on informing our membership about who our compact negotiation teams are and various “what if” scenarios. There were some very good questions which came from the audience and some in depth discussions. One point that was stressed to our membership at the community meetings was how important it is that we “keep our hand close to our chest”; and how damaging it can be when our membership post internal dialogue on social media. When our members participate in that, we significantly weaken our opportunities – especially when dealing with the state of New York. We must proceed with caution and bear in mind that we are fighting a worn battle with a new, unsympathetic governor. Our team met with NYS negotiators again, on Thursday, March 16th, and Friday, March 17th, in Albany. Attending the meetings on behalf of the Nation were Treasurer Pagels, Councillor Waterman, and myself along with our legal team. We had a productive two days of meetings and made substantial progress on several issues. We have agreed in principle to 8 of the 17 sections and are close to an agreement on a number of additional sections. We have several key issues left to negotiate and are hopeful we will resolve them. The all-day, in-person meetings have helped to move items along towards resolution. We are scheduled to meet with the State negotiators virtually in the next couple of weeks as needed; then, we’ll host a two-day meeting in April at one of the Nation’s facilities. Much of the upcoming meetings will focus on the exclusivity fee. Rest assured, there is a mutual recognition between the Seneca Nation and the State that the current exclusivity rate is too high. Therefore, we have retained an expert to provide economic justification for whatever rate we end up at; and the State has retained a SUNY think tank to do the same on their behalf. Finally, we have also had additional meetings with the Department of the Interior, and expect they will be providing technical assistance in the next month, on an as needed basis. I will do my best to keep everyone informed as our negotiations with the State continue.

Even though it may not seem like it today, it won’t be long before spring and summer are here. I’d like to ask our membership to be mindful while playing and/or working down at Low Banks on our Allegany Territory. Our members have several different pieces of property in that area of the Allegany territory. Some of those properties get rented out seasonally to non-Senecas. For the protection and safety of anyone who enjoys hanging out down there, please be respectful of riding 4-wheelers on the trails or hiking through other members’ property. Yes, this is Seneca Nation sovereign land, but we should all be mindful to respect our own members, as well as our visitors. This applies to lessees of SNI lands in recognizing Seneca members are the ultimate landowners.

It will be wild onion soup and fry bread season before we know it! Don’t forget to check in on your elders and see if they would like a quart. I’m sure they’ll appreciate that someone was thinking of them.

Rickey L. Armstrong, Sr.