By Aaron Besecker
The Senecas, who have been subjected to "continued aggression and encroachment from New York State," need to remain resilient, Tribal Council Member J.C. Seneca said Tuesday.
"I firmly believe that, like my father told me, the state government and the United States are not going to be happy until they eliminate us as a people. And this is the process of what they're trying to do," Seneca said.
"They want to terminate us and assimilate us into the white society," Seneca continued. "That's their goal, ultimate goal. And we're going to fight every inch of the way to stop them and to keep our culture and our traditions and our nation alive and well."
It's not just about the state attempting to collect taxes on cigarettes from non-Indians. Seneca frustration stems from generations of broken treaties, leased-land disputes and claims of eminent domain by the state, said Robert Odawi Porter, a Seneca Nation lawyer who is running for president of the nation.
"Really it goes back to the very beginning," Porter said. "The state and its officials have engaged in nothing but predatory conduct. It's just been one continued episode of theft and efforts to terminate us."
Below: "Alexia Craft, foreground, and Shinny Clause of Tuscarora Reservation are among protesters along Route 31 in Sanborn as Native Americans affirm their opposition to the state's attempt to tax cigarettes sold to non-Indians." (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News)