Seneca Nation of Indians President Maurice John, Sr.
AP image
Seneca Nation of Indians President Maurice John, Sr.

Senecas to Build Housing Development on Historic Land

Alex Hamer

The Seneca Nation of Indians has informed the Town of Collins, New York, that they will be moving forward with a housing development on a 55-acre parcel of land that the Seneca Nation purchased in 2011. A January 4th Collins Town Board meeting included a letter sent by Seneca Nation of Indians President Maurice John, Sr. informing the Town of Collins of the Seneca Nation's plans to build the housing development.

The land was purchased with funds from the Seneca Settlement Act of 1990. This means that the land will be eligible for Restricted Fee Status making the land a piece of the Seneca Nation Territory. The Seneca Nation is a part of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) 6 Nation Confederacy. The Seneca are known as the keepers of the Western Door in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy whose ancestral homelands cover western New York.

Seneca Seal“The Seneca Settlement Act establishes an 80 year lease (40/40) with reparations to the Seneca Nation of Indians for past injustices and Congress' failure to maintain it's federal-trust responsibility to the Onöndowa'ga:'” according to the Seneca-Iroquois Museum website. The Seneca Settlement Act included $5 million dollars for the economic and community development of the Seneca Nation. The Act also includes a provision that states that land acquired within or in proximity to former reservation lands may become a part of and expand the boundaries of the Seneca Nation. The Seneca reservations include the territory of the Allegany Reservation, the Oil Springs Reservations and the Cattaraugus Reservation. The latter being in close proximity to the 55 acres purchased in Collins, New York. The Cattaraugus Reservation and the Town of Collins share a border approximately 40 miles south of Collins.

When contacted via telephone, Town Supervisor Dave Tessmer had this to say on the Seneca Nation's plans to develop the parcel.

“I'm disappointed that we are going to have property in the town coming off the tax rolls but I certainly understand it's their right to do so. And I look forward to working with them on whatever plans they have for the parcel. I hope we are still involved somehow with their planning development of the parcel.” Mr. Tessmer also confirmed that the Seneca Nation has been paying taxes on the property to this point since 2011 when the Seneca Nation reacquired the land.

The Seneca Nation of Indians operates three casinos is Western New York as well as owning a radio station and several other business ventures. The Seneca Nation employs approximately 800 people with plans to add jobs in the near future. Comments on this article were not available from the Seneca Nation of Indians at this time.

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