ALBANY - New York state and Indian Nations are pledging to work together for a brighter future.
Representatives from the Seneca Nation of Indians, Oneida, Unkechaug, Saint Regis Mohawk and Cayuga Indian Nations met with the State-Native American Relations committee on Monday. Senators on the committee include Catharine Young, R-Olean; Joseph Addabbo Jr., D-Queens; John Bonacic, R-Mt. Hope; Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma; Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon; Timothy Kennedy, D-Buffalo; Betty Little, R-Queensbury; Committee Chairman George Maziarz, R-Newfane; and Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx.
"The Senate has established this standing committee to enhance communication and understanding with Native American nations and tribes across New York state," Young said. "It is the first time in state history that such a committee has been established, and we are hoping that the Assembly follows suit."
The senators and the Indian Nations spent two hours discussing a variety of topics during their meeting, according to Young.
"We had a productive dialogue about many issues that ranged from education to the Interstate 86 construction work that finally is starting through the Seneca Territory," she said. "One of the main topics was economic growth, and working together to achieve more job opportunities and prosperity for our region."
Each of the Indian Nation leaders represented at Monday's meeting had a chance to talk about their specific tribe, as well as the opportunities they have and some of the challenges they face.
"Seneca Nation leaders, including Councillors Bryan Gonzales, Mike Smith, and Morris Abrams, and Historian Steven Gordon traveled to Albany to take part in the summit. We appreciate that they took part, and they made several valuable points during the discussion," Young said. "It was a great beginning that we will continue to build on in the future."