Cayuga's road request rejected
by DAVID L. SHAWfirstname.lastname@example.org
WATERLOO — The Public Works Committee of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors gently but firmly rejected the Cayuga Indian Nation’s request Tuesday to add 11.4 miles of local roads to the tribe’s 2010 “Indian Reservation Road Inventory.”
Committee members and other supervisors said granting the request could indicate that the board thinks the Cayugas have a reservation in the county. And from their perspective, that’s a problem.
“We don’t believe there is a reservation in Seneca County,” said Robert Shipley, R-Waterloo, committee chairman. “So how can there be reservation roads in Seneca County?”
Committee member Lee Davidson, R-Lodi, agreed.
“I would only consider this if it was clear there is not a reservation here. And based on past history, that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“I’m being honest with you: I don’t want you to waste your time,” he told Justin Bennett, the executive director of the Nation’s division of housing.
The Nation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs hired WHPacific engineers, architects, surveyors and planners of Albuquerque, N.M., to prepare the road request. It was submitted to Seneca County Highway Superintendent Roy Gates in May.
The roads are mostly in Seneca Falls, with some in Fayette. They are within or border the 29 acres of land owned by the tribe in Seneca County.
The New Mexico firm submitted a sample letter for county officials to sign. It states that the county owns the roads listed and is responsible for maintenance now and in the future.
It says Seneca County grants permission to the Cayuga Indian Nation to include the roads in its Indian Reservation Road Inventory.
“Should funding and tribal priorities allow, improvements to such roadways may be made through a cooperative process between the tribe and Seneca County,” it states.
The document does not grant jurisdiction, ownership or any authority over the roads to the tribe, and it states that no improvement will take place until Seneca County grants permission.
Bennett told the committee that the tribe receives federal money for road improvements, as does the county.
“We can put our two pots of money together and get more done,” Bennett said.