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Seneca Tribe Wants To Be Part of Buffalo Case

On November 30th, 2007, the Seneca Nation of Indian is hoping to be recognized as a friend of the court so that they can speak on behalf of a case regarding a casino facility in the downtown area of Buffalo. The request is expected to be studied by U.S. District Court Judge William Skretny. The Seneca Nation is not officially listed as a part of the lawsuit filed by gambling critics.

Critics said that the planned $333 million Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, planned for the 9 acre site in South Park Avenue, not far from the HSBC Arena, is being built on a non-Indian territory. The construction for the foundation of the casino will begin in December and the twenty-three story hotel will open in 2010. But Federal Officials have given permission to the Seneca Nation, through their Seneca Gaming Corporation to open a 5,000 square foot temporary casino facility in July.

The Seneca Tribe was given the right to open three local casino establishments, according to a 2002 gaming compact the tribe signed in New York. The Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel opened in 2002 and the Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel opened in 2005 in Salamanca. The Buffalo Creek casino is the last of the three casinos that have been allowed under the gaming compact.

Maurice John Sr., Seneca Nation president said that they will continue to fight anyone that blocks their right to tribal sovereignty. The Seneca Indian Tribe filed a 61 page argument to be included as a "friend of the court.

The case was made by Robert Odwai Porter, the tribe's senior policy adviser and counsel, together with Christopher Karns, the deputy council, Carol Heckman. Heckman is former federal magistrate and a member of Harter Secrest and Emery from Buffalo together with Riyaz Kanji, an expert on American Indian litigation from Ann Arbor.

The lawsuit, filed by the Citizens Against Casino Gaming in Erie County, targets federal and state officials but does not name the Seneca Nation of Indians. The Seneca Nation would be affected by any decision made by Skretny and wants to personally defend itself from the case.


25 December 2007
News Submitted by:
Jessica Kellerman

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