Roughly 200 people, most members of the Seneca Nation, gathered at Niagara Square in Buffalo last Friday to protest Governor Kathy Hochul’s handling of a gaming compact dispute with the Nation.
New York State and the Seneca Nation have been at odds for years over slot machine revenue sharing. While the Nation was reviewing the National Indian Gaming Commission’s report on the dispute, NYS filed a court motion to freeze the Nation’s bank accounts and seize the escrow funds, according to Ithaca Journal.
The dispute ended when the Nation paid $564 million to the state in late March, though many Senecas have expressed their displeasure with this outcome. Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels accused New York State of taking the Nation and Western New Yorkers “hostage” through “economic coercion” in his initial filmed statement.
Protestors at Friday’s event in Buffalo criticized the state’s decision and expressed their belief that, despite the Seneca Nation being a major economic contributor, they have been routinely disrespected by the state. The Nation has created 4,500 jobs through its casinos.