NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) – An independent nation Seneca it is the largest of the six countries and has a democratic government that predates the United States Constitution.
The nation has more than 8,000 registered citizens.
The Seneca Nation supports its people and benefits the surrounding community in a variety of cultural, educational and economic ways.
President and CEO of Seneca Gaming Corporation, Kevin Nephew said, “One of the things we’re really looking at, is how do we put that together and be an educational piece not just for our team members but for the community at large.”
As American Heritage Month draws to a close, 7 News looks at ways the nation has used opportunities to educate and raise awareness about its culture.
If you ask a member of the “Wolf Clan”, Kevin Nephew, about how he celebrates American Heritage Month, the answer is simple:
“I forget about a month. We celebrate every day,” said Mtshana.
A nephew has taken over for the past two years. He is first member of the Seneca Nation to take on this role.
“A few pieces that come to culture are our language, our traditions. We always look to our past, present and future. I think sometimes people forget that,” explained Mtshana.
Nationally, half of the indigenous people in the area or near the reservation are foreigners who have opened gambling-style Las Vegas, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Many of these are located in rural areas and attract customers who drive an hour or more to the casino site.
“One of the best things we do is to keep cultivating our leaders. It was a very proud moment that two months ago, we appointed two members of Seneca as general managers. Those are the people who lead our buildings,” said the nephew.
The real beauty, however, is the Seneca culture, language and traditions housed in a museum, in the Allegany Territory.
From 10 am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, visitors can stop by the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum to learn about the extensive collection of artifacts, historical documents and more.
“We will always be here and we will always be a part of Western New York. We were here before it was called New York and we will be here after,” the nephew added.
The National Congress of American Indians states that there are 574 officially recognized tribes in the United States, variously called tribes, tribes, bands, pueblos, communities and native villages.