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On May 3, 1995, the Seneca Nation of Indians filed a claim for the islands in the Niagara River between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Although called "the Grand Island issue" in a recent News article, this claim affects all of these islands totaling 18,660 acres.

Since the onset of this claim, our elected officials have assured the public that it will be thrown out of court. Of course, it has not been. Now our lawmakers say that the Seneca Nation cannot win the lawsuit. Will they be wrong again? No one knows how a court of law will rule on this complex issue.

Myself and many others feel that this issue needs to be settled outside of the court system through negotiations. Which brings me to an important point -- the exclusion of the lawsuit from the casino negotiations.

This administration is so adamant about getting casino gambling that it does not want to anger the Seneca Nation by demanding that the lawsuit be included in negotiations. As a taxpayer, I am very angry that this issue is not part of the deal. Additionally, our elected officials, who represent the voters, have already rejected casino gambling, so why is the administration bypassing the system?

Albany needs to do a reality check. Casino gambling pales in comparison to the consequences of losing this lawsuit. The exclusion of this issue from negotiations is unreasonable.

The Seneca lawsuit has had a very negative impact on Grand Island and has broad implications for the entire state. Leadership is needed in Albany to bring this issue to a successful conclusion.


Grand Island