IRVING, N.Y. (WIVB) - The Seneca Nation is asserting its territorial rights, promising to evict some 80 residents from summer cottagers along Snyder Beach.
For 60 summers, Jack Dejac has been coming to this cottage on Snyder Beach in Irving where Cattaraugus Creek empties into Lake Erie. But he and 80 other non-Indian cottage owners have received notices from the Seneca Nation of Indians saying they have to vacate their cottages by November 8th.
Dejac said, "Where are you going to find a nice little hideway place like this? I don't know what the outcome [will be]; there's really not much we can do about it."
In a statement, Seneca Nation President Robert Odawi Porter said, "This is a long standing issue of unlawful occupation and is key for the Seneca Nation. The Cattaraugus Territory is for Senecas, and removing the unlawful occupants will make more land available for Senecas."
The Seneca Nation Council unanimously approved the eviction in April.
Snyder Beach co-owner Dan Maybee countered, "It seems to me that it's more like a shakedown and when they'rr unsuccessful with the shakedown like Rob Porter has been, then they move towards taking your land."
Maybee says it's not Seneca Nation land - it's his. He and his partner John Metzger are enrolled members of the Seneca Nation, and this is the 200-acre alotment on Seneca territory that's been in their family for almost a hundred years.
The two business owners charge each cottage owner about a thousand dollars a year and the Seneca Nation used to charge them about $150 for an annual fee.
"They took the money, they collected it, they cashed the checks," Maybee noted.
But the Nation stopped collecting the annual fee about 25 years ago. Now they're proceeding with an eviction attampt.
Cottage owner Kathy Madigan said, "I'm devastated, and we're shocked and we don't understand why this is happening."
Maybee said, "We've looked into what could be driving this effort and we still can't come up with anything that's logical."
Also in a statement, President Porter said, "It is quite clearly an illegal occupation, even if that may surprise some of the current residents and the general public."
Maybee says the Nation has made attempts like this before. It will be up to the courts to decide. Seneca Nation leaders did not want to be interviewed Friday night.
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