U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has written a letter to Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs asking the agency to reject the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma's land-into-trust application.
The tribe is attempting to place 229 acres of land in Cayuga and Seneca counties — most of it in Aurelius — into trust to build a casino and a hotel. Schumer called the effort an "unwanted and counterproductive proposal."
"Communities across Cayuga and Seneca counties have not agreed to this land-into-trust bid and the Bureau of Indian Affairs must reject it because it would create a checker boarding of jurisdiction, and would harm upstate New York's local tax base, its businesses, and its future economic development," Schumer said in a statement release Monday.
Schumer also notes in his letter that untaxed cigarettes were seized earlier this month from a smoke shop in Seneca Falls operated by the Oklahoma-based tribe. Approximately 800 cases of cigarettes were seized by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Seneca-Cayuga tribe attempted to place this land into trust once before. The first application was submitted in 2006 and two years later, in 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the tribe's application. At the time, the agency said the tribe had not demonstrated the casino plan would provide an economic benefit to the tribe's members in Oklahoma.
Cayuga County officials first learned about the new application for trust status in late December.