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STATE IS PUTTING THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE

I am writing in response to the June 13 article, "Bruno backing WNY casino efforts." I am an enrolled, full-blooded member of the Tonawanda Band of Senecas. I am not a clan mother or a leader of this nation. But under the Great Law of Peace that we are supposed to follow, each individual has a right to voice his opinion.

The Tonawanda Senecas and the Seneca Nation were once one nation living between what is now Syracuse and Ohio. The Seneca Nation decided to change its form of government and follow an elective system; Tonawanda remained in its traditional form of government. Despite this, we are all still Senecas. That said, Gov. George Pataki, his negotiating team and the Seneca Nation have no right to meet, accept proposals from prospective developers or make any decisions without the knowledge or consent of the people in the Tonawanda Band of Senecas.

In our traditional form of government, we have seven clans comprised of the people of Tonawanda. Each clan is supposed to have a chief, a sub-chief and a clan mother. The chiefs and clan mothers are supposed to follow the will of their people. One chief cannot sign for the collective clans. The state has been ignoring our laws and rules by dealing with just one chief on several occasions, on several different issues. In the eyes of the general public of Tonawanda, each of these decisions/agreements made by just one chief must be null and void.

Pataki spokesman Michael McKeon's statement that, "We're prepared to continue to work with the Senecas in good faith," amazes me. Just what good faith is the state talking about? How can there be good faith when all the parties are not being included?

All the talk about whether the state will allow slot machines is putting the cart before the horse.

MELISSA SMITH

Basom

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