IRVING - Recent threats by the Seneca Nation of Indians to seek the removal of Snyder Beach customers from the 170 cottages in the well kept summer community on the shores of Lake Erie near Brant have been met with a firm rebuke by the Native American owners of Snyder Beach, John Metzger and Dan Maybee.
"The aggressive and confiscatory efforts of the Seneca Nation under the leadership of its current President, Robert Odawi Porter, violate federal and state law, the Nation's constitutional protection of our property rights as enrolled members of the Seneca Nation, and the customs, laws and traditions of the Seneca Nation," Metzger said.
Maybee added, "Because he has refused our repeated efforts to discuss this matter with him, we are left to guess the motives of President Porter in pursuing this course of action, and in seeking to alarm our customers and draw attention to his plan by issuing a press release late Friday afternoon. He seems to be using our property and our hard working and decent non-Native customers as pawns to gain political advantages in November's election, or for leverage in the Nation's various ongoing disputes with the state."
Metzger and Maybee emphasize that they stand ready to prove the validity of their ownership of Snyder Beach as "allotted" lands within the Seneca Nation's territory, and the legal validity of their contracts with their customers. They point to a written record of their ownership that originated in 1917 when Metzger's grandfather and Maybee's great-grandfather, John L. Snyder, first acquired ownership of Snyder Beach and began operating the summer cottage community. That record includes deeds recorded by the Seneca Nation, decrees of its Surrogate's court and numerous writings from the Seneca Nation acknowledging the Snyder family's ownership. John L. Snyder was a prominent elder in the Seneca Nation who, in 1904, became the first full blooded Indian to be admitted to the Bar in the State of New York.
According to Metzger, "President Porter's complete disregard of my grandfather's legacy and my family's ownership of Snyder Beach over the past 95 years by improperly branding our customers as 'squatters' on the Nation's territory as it represents an abuse of power and the law that is a danger to the rights of all Senecas."
"As evidenced by the operation of our family's business over the past 95 years, there is no State or Federal law that prohibits our customers from continuing to enjoy their cottages at Snyder Beach, as many of their families have done for generations," said Maybee. "The 170 cottages at Snyder Beach are enjoyed by our customers' extended family members and friends for summertime activities in a manner that is very respectful of the Seneca Nation's interests. We receive no services from the Nation and we tightly control our customer base to ensure the preservation of the family atmosphere that was intended by John L. Snyder. We feel duty bound to preserve his legacy by standing up to and overcoming President Porter's heavy handed, misguided and wrongful threats."