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NEW YORK STATE: Thruway dispute not going away

Driving upon Interstate 90 near Exit 58 at Silver Creek, it is hard for motorists to miss a sign that states they have entered Seneca Nation of Indians territory. That same billboard also notes a cost for New York state: $675 million for use of the land.

Last month, the Nation won an important battle in this issue. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision rejecting the state’s attempt to dismiss the Nation’s lawsuit, filed in 2018, over ongoing violations of federal law related to the continued occupation of the New York State Thruway on the Nation’s Cattaraugus Territory.

“After fighting New York’s overreaching actions for decades, on the Thruway and other issues, this is an important victory,” said Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong Sr. in a statement. “Our arguments on behalf of our people deserve to be heard in court. The Thruway is a 300-acre scar on our Cattaraugus Territory that New York state inflicted on our people without proper authorization from the Department of Interior or in compliance with the promises made to us by treaty. We intend to make sure that state officials finally comply with federal law for this invasion of our land.”

New York state played hardball with the nation when it came to gaming revenues. It did not sit well with Seneca residents.

In this important issue, the tables are turned. New York state has trespassed with Interstate 90 — and is definitely in for a rough ride.

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