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Senecas to Charge State $1 per Vehicle for Use of Thruway

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The Seneca Nation of Indians will start charging the the state one dollar for every vehicle passing through the Cattaraugus reservation on the state Thruway. The charge was authorized by the nation's Tribal Council.

It takes effect at midnight Friday.

The Senecas say individual drivers will not be forced to pay. They say their resolution requires the Thruway Authority to calculate the total charge and pay the Senecas on a monthly basis.

"For too long, the state has paid the Nation nothing for the use of our lands. The state allows motorists to use the Thruway and the state will be billed on behalf of all motorists," said Maurice A. John, Sr., Nation President.

John says drivers should not feel "threatened" by this action.

The Senecas last month rescinded their 1954 easement that granted the state permission to use their land for the Thruway. Though John denies it, the dispute with the state may be related to the Spitzer administration's vow to collect taxes on sales of tobacco products by Native American retailers to non-Indians.