Written January 30, 2015     
 

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© 2015 Bob Lonsberry

 
 
A LETTER TO THE SENECA NATION

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Dear Seneca Nation,

Please come home.

On behalf of those of us who live and work on the banks of the Genesee, please come home.

Specifically, come to Rochester and build a casino.

Before I go on, let me acknowledge how odd this is. Gambling isn't particularly a part of your heritage and it's not particularly a part of ours. But by some oddity of law and current custom, various Indian nations across the country have been swept into gambling. Many tribes have established casinos and flourished economically as a result.

It's an odd and imperfect thing, but it's the way it is.

And the smart man learns how to survive in the world in which he finds himself.

So we need your help.

Rochester is a great but troubled city. By most indicators, the last 20 years have been a steady and sometimes dramatic decline. We're not in the toilet yet, but we're knocking hard on the bathroom door. This weakness has hit the city hard, and also been troubling to the region that surrounds it.

Thus this request.

While a casino won't solve everything, and while it might bring some problems of its own, it remains a certain spark to economic development. And in this situation it has the potential to reconnect a place with the people who anciently inhabited it.

About the casino. Nobody thinks a casino is going to be the end all and be all. But its construction will create jobs and its operation will create jobs. Yes, many of those jobs will be fairly low-paying service jobs. But for someone who has no job, a fairly low-paying service job is a godsend. Whole industries and careers are built around the hospitality industry, and there's no reason careers couldn't be built around a casino. Even those who have moral problems with gambling can see the benefit of an excellent place to go out and eat and to watch a show.

Rochester wants a casino. The building trades want a casino, the merchants want a casino, the workers want a casino. Everybody's on board but the politicians, but politicians can be persuaded. As we sit here with an empty hole in our downtown, wondering how to bring people to our region's hub, the notion of a casino is very appealing. It makes sense.

So why come to you?

Because this was your home. Our area -- our city and the region that revolves around it -- was all Seneca territory. This was the base from which the Seneca Nation ranged over the eastern third of what is now the United States. This is where your ancestors lived and are buried. There is a connection here.

And if there's going to be a casino here, it should be run by a nation that has a link to us and to our area. We want to deal with a tribe whose history is tied to ours. We want the casino to be more than a money thing. We want it to be a reminder and testament of heritage. We want its mere presence each day to be a reminder of the circle of time and the history of this land.

So please come.

Rochester is in your area. And while we know that the citing of casinos is a political and contentious process, we are asking you to please keep us on your list.

We know we're not Niagara Falls or Buffalo, we're not a huge tourist destination or automatic draw. But we are a metropolitan area of a million people. And we are your home. We are your brothers in tenancy.We walk where your ancestors walked, and where you should walk again.

So please consider it. As you counsel together as a nation, as you wrestle with the state, as you push your ventures forward, please remember this invitation.

Please remember this plea.

Come home. Come back to the banks of the Genesee. Your families were pushed out after the Revolution, now is the time for your triumphant return. We need your help, and we welcome your friendship, and we want you to know you are welcome.

And this column was sent to you by someone who invites you to our town.

Kindly,

A Rochesterian


- by Bob Lonsberry © 2015

   
        
   
 
    

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