|Ray Halbritter, Tribal President of the Oneida Indian Nation, has accused top negotiators for Governor George Pataki of “bargaining in bad faith over land claims and other issues with the tribe.” Halbritter said that in an effort to end land-claim negotiations between the nation and the State of New York, the Pataki administration has made “ ‘11th hour’ demands for the tribe to turn over a portion of revenues generated by its Turning Stone casino to the state.”|
President Halbitter said that rather than submit to this late demand from Governor Pataki’s people, the Oneidas would “shut down Turning Stone [their main casino] and associated tribal ventures rather than to accede to ‘revenue sharing’ [as the Pataki people describe the proposal] with the state.”
According to their own financial filings with the state, the Oneida tribe, which has 1,000 members, made a profit a $70 million profit last year on Turning Stone.
That figure, based on last year’s business only, represents a per capita income of $70,000 per year for members of the Oneida tribe.
The argument over money has increased in intensity between state and tribe since the Oneidas and several other New York tribes indicated an interest in building three Indian casinos in the Catskills, now allowed by recent state law. A compact between any tribe and the state is needed, under law, before any new casino may be opened in the Catskill Mountains. President Halbritter said that agreements with both the Pataki administration and the administration of former Democrat Governor Mario Cuomo had “ruled out payments based on Turning Stone gambling revenues.”
Thus, according to the claim of the tribal leader, this “revenue sharing” proposed by Governor Pataki for the benefit of the state is a new development which had not been introduced on the agenda for current negotiations between the Oneidas and the State.
There was no comment from the Pataki Administration.