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Seneca Nation upset with 'overreaching' actions by New York State

The Seneca Nation president says a subpoena served by New York State is impacting their bank accounts and that they can't conduct banking transactions.

CATTARAUGUS COUNTY, N.Y. — The Seneca Nation is speaking out about actions taken by the State of New York that they call "overreaching."

The Seneca Nation president says a subpoena served by the state is impacting Seneca Nation and Seneca Gaming Corporation bank accounts, so they can't conduct banking transactions.

In a statement released Saturday, Seneca Nation president Matthew Pagels said, "Any individuals or organizations with nation-issued checks in their possession should not to attempt to cash or deposit the checks until we have rectified the situation."

The Seneca Nation says this action hurts their ability to provide basic services. The nation and New York State are at odds over casino revenue payments.

This is the latest move in the long-standing dispute between the two sides over hundreds of millions of dollars in casino revenue, which the state claims the Senecas still owe.

“New York State’s actions over the past few days were purposeful, malicious and politically motivated," Pagels said in a statement released Sunday.

The Seneca Nation Council will meet at 9 a.m. Monday to discuss the banking transaction situation, with some members of the nation hoping for a bolder approach in their dealings with the state.

2 On Your Side reached out to the governor's office for a response on Saturday night, but we did not receive an immediate response. On Sunday they did send out copies of a restraining order and subpoena for information dated last Thursday and filed with the Seneca Nation and KeyBank. 

There was no further comment from the state, and KeyBank responded "no comment" citing pending litigation. 

"New York has shown, with willful indifference to thousands of people, the type of business partner they want to be," Seneca Nation said Sunday in a statement. "We have endured many wounds and wrongs from New York State during our long co-existence.

"That history of attacks against our people, our land and our sovereignty serves as a backdrop to every interaction the Seneca Nation has with New York State. It is disappointing that New York has chosen to add yet another chapter to that history just as we prepare for Compact discussions."    

2 On Your Side also reached out to Leslie Logan who is a member of the Mothers of The Nation advocacy group.

"The state having completely violated the court action and instead moved to freeze the nation's account," Logan said. "This is economically devastating to most in the nation, that it impacts virtually every member of the Seneca Nation, in all likelihood. It's economic terrorism."

And Logan had strong statements for Seneca leadership.

"I for one would like to see the Seneca elected officials stand up for the nation in a stronger, more meaningful way," Logan said. "To defend the economic interests for the Seneca people."

She also discussed KeyBank, which again declined comment due to litigation.

"There is going to be a widespread exodus of people, nation members, individual accounts being closed. Nation members divesting from KeyBank," she said. 

Logan acknowledges an arbitration panel and federal court have ruled in favor of the state. But she hopes to see the Seneca Nation leaders hire new attorneys for a stronger legal challenge.

Logan says she and other members may also seek more involvement from the U.S. Department of Interior, which has oversight on tribal matters. 

 

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