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Indian leaders select Ithaca as site for Democratic Forum, June 27-28

A gathering of Indian leaders from within New York state has been scheduled for June 27 and 28, 1997, at the Triphammer Lodge and Conference Center in Ithaca. Sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m. and last until 5 p.m.

Confirmed as speakers will be Michael Schindler, president of the Seneca Nation of Indians; Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative; Harry Wallace, chief, Unkechaug Nation; and Paul Thompson, chief, St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council. Each will be presenting case histories and perspectives on how their particular tribal governments have been dealing with the issues of New York state taxation, trade and commerce regulations, sovereign powers and authorities and Indian leadership issues involving democratic processes of public participation and free expression.

Three of the Indian nations, represented by their tribal leaders -- the Seneca, Mohawk and Unkechaug -- did not enter into compacts with New York state during recent events that eventually resulted in Gov. George Pataki's public affirmation of Indian sovereignty, land rights and the authority of Indian's to build economies based upon the sales of tobacco and fuel products.

Also attending will be tribal leaders from the Oneida Nation who entered into a compact with New York prior to Pataki's public pronouncement. The varying Indian perspectives on these issues will provide the public with an inside look and understanding of the viewpoints and motivations of each of the Indian nations.

Also confirmed to speak will be Mark Sidebottom, representative of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. Sidebottom will present the interests of the New York state business sector that has been impacted by the development of Indian economies. This marks the first time that the economic interests from both the Indian and New York state communities will meet to discuss these controversial issues in a public setting.

A coalition of Indian community organizations is following up on the Cornell University American Indian Program's initial community extension work in this area. For more information, contact the Six Nations International Development Agency at (519) 445-0439.

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