The Seneca County Board of Supervisors directed a sharply worded letter Tuesday (Dec. 3) to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Board Chairman Bob Hayssen of Varick and Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Shipley of Waterloo expressed their frustration with the BIA, a division of the federal Department of the Interior, for having issued statements to the effect a new application would be required if the Cayuga Indian Nation (CIN) wanted any of its Seneca or Cayuga County property taken into trust. The BIA had rejected a 2009 application by the Cayuga Indian Nation to have land taken into trust on its behalf.
“Now we’re told they [BIA] are actively considering a Cayuga land-into-trust application.” Shipley said. “We have not been told whether it is the same application from 2009, a revised application with new submissions added or a new application all together. Apparently it’s a secret.”
Seneca County has been involved in a long standing dispute over the Cayuga Indian Nation’s assertion of a right to ignore state and federal law requiring it to pay both sales and real property taxes declared lawfully due and payable by the Courts.
THE CIN APPLICATION for parcels of its Seneca and Cayuga County land to be taken into trust was withdrawn from consideration in 2011. The Bureau of Indian Affairs was unclear at the time as to the reason for the withdrawal asserting only the application was incomplete and the CIN would be permitted to file a new application at a later date if it chose to do so.
Hayssen and Shipley expressed their “strongest opposition” to any action being taken on any application without proper notice, “denying the people of Seneca and Cayuga counties our due process rights guaranteed under your own BIA guidelines.”
They added, “without doubt [there would be an environmental] impact on the residents of our two counties.”
They also pointed out the “Cayuga Indian Nation is not subject to the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 in any event as has been determined in the United States Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar and thus is not entitled to have land taken into trust on their behalf by the federal government.
“THE PEOPLE OF Seneca County have never asked anything of the CIN or the BIA except recognition of the rights of persons conducting business in our county to a fair and level playing field and that those who live, work and own property here pay their fair and equal share of the costs of the law enforcement, education, infrastructure and general operational costs of local government that they use in common with us.”
They concluded by asking for the Bureau’s cooperation in responding to the FOIA applications of the firm of Harris Beach and an explanation of the status of any application or applications filed with your department by or on behalf of the CIN. Harris Beach represents the county in Indian affairs matters.