On August 5, delegates from the New York State-Native American Relations Committee visited Oneida Indian Nation homelands for a productive day of meetings and dialogue. The visit follows a commitment made by the Senate Committee to visit tribal nations throughout New York, and is in line with the Nation’s dedication to strengthening relations with regional partners and stakeholders.

The committee members, which included NYS Senators Joseph Addabbo Jr., Daphne Jordan, Timothy Kennedy, Betty Little, Rachel May, Robert Ortt and Gustavo Rivera, were joined by Senator Joseph Griffo for a tour of Nation property, beginning at the Council House. There, they were greeted by Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, who provided a brief history of the Nation and outlined its functions as a modern government. The senators learned about the Nation’s many services, such as its healthcare, law enforcement and education programs. He also spoke about the importance of meetings like these, as a form of open dialogue and valuable relationship building.

Before leaving the Council House, the lawmakers were treated to a traditional welcome song by Oneida children, who presented each guest with a friendship feather. From there, they toured other Nation property and stopped at the Oneida Indian Nation Courthouse, where they met with Judge Robert Hurlbutt and Nation Chief of Police Gary Henderson.

In the afternoon, joined by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente and Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Becker, the delegation attended a lunch at Turning Stone. Ray spoke again, this time to discuss issues related to Central New York’s economic development and the Nation’s economic importance to the region.