Cayuga Nation Land Claims Harm Our Community

March 10, 2006

Cayuga and Seneca County residents know all too well the issues surrounding the Cayuga Indians’ land claims in our district. For several years, homeowners and businesses have faced the possibility of losing their hard-earned, privately owned property to the Cayuga Nation.

I have supported, and will continue to stand with, the owners of property in Indian land claim areas.

The Cayuga Nation’s land trust application negatively impacts the lives of law-abiding property owners and taxpayers in our community and across the state. For this reason, I encourage the Bureau of Indian Affairs to reject the Cayuga Nation’s land trust application.

The Cayuga Nation is wrong to seek placement of their lands in trust as a method of protecting their businesses from taxation. A trust is a not-for-profit vehicle intended to preserve and protect a natural or man-made environment by creating easements that restrict property use. The Cayuga Nation has developed a lucrative for-profit operation with gas stations, campgrounds, car washes and bingo halls, and the Nation wants to protect that with a trust. Granting the Nation its request is unfair and would protect their operations from a tax system adhered to by other for-profit businesses.

Indian-owned businesses operating without a sales tax collection requirement gives them an unfair advantage because it allows them to undercut market prices over local business owners and operators who must charge and collect sales taxes.

Also, the whole idea of a national trust was not designed for densely populated areas but, rather, for the western regions of the United States. The Cayuga Nation’s application for designation is totally without merit in Cayuga and Seneca counties. We cannot allow this region to be “checker-boarded” on political or judicial whims.

We must demand that the Bureau of Indian Affairs immediately reject the Cayuga Nation request to place their holdings in a land trust. There are no legal, constitutional or rational justifications to allow this petition to move forward.