Livingston County News file photo Paul Winnie speaks during a protest against the Horseshoe solar project in October 2020. Protesters, many of them Senecas or members of other Iroquois tribes, voiced opposition to the project on the grounds it will be built on lands once owned, used and enjoyed by their indigenous ancestors and may disturb culturally significant archaeological sites.

The December 31, 2020 Livingston County News article, “Horseshoe Solar Removes Acreage to Protect ‘Culturally Significant’ Sites,” made extensive use of a Horseshoe Solar Energy LLC. (HSS) news release and left me with more questions than answers. The most important being:

How is Protecting Our Ancestors going to end at Canawaugus and Rush?

A 70-acre reduction at Golah, about 5 percent of the project, in two of a total of 44 parcels, based on a “preliminary” Phase 1B study is not the answer.

This modification only came into consideration when after their initial Article 10 application of July 2, 2020 was filed. Horseshoe Solar Energy LLC. (HSS) was issued an Article 10 deficiency letter dated August 31, 2020 from the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. Invenergy hired Panamerican Consultants Inc. as its research and survey contractor through Horseshoe Solar Energy LLC. (HSS). The deficiency letter cites 26 cases that lack application requirements.

The project area unquestionably meets the criteria of archaeological high sensitivity. HSS accepts the presence of 43 “known” archaeological sites with accompanying burial places. Human occupation has been in this place about 4,000 years before the Great Pyramid of Giza was built, all in an area one quarter of the town of Rush. With mounting posts for 600,000 panels pounded 6-feet into the soil, burial disturbance may unknowingly result. The Phase II evaluation involving additional excavations has not started. This Phase 1B was primarily a surface study only in an area that has had 200 years of farming and land use changes, not to mention a long history of being subjected to artifact collectors whose findings have rarely been documented.

Is this the protection of the Ancient Ones and Seneca homeland that we deserve?

One of our traditional teachings is to consider the impact of a decision seven generations (140 years) ahead. This sacred place is birthplace to Handsome Lake, leader and prophet, that brought the important spiritual message of the “Good Word” and others that fought and died against the colonization quest of land domination and genocide. It is because of them we have been able to keep traditions and culture alive. Yet a generation is still here to fight the wars of injustice.

“What happens to the ecosystems of the Genesee River valley that don’t have a voice and can’t defend themselves against the green ‘as in money’ energy?

The overall concern of the land and the water protectors, no matter who they are, is that all of the project is culturally sensitive, especially the Golah substations area and both sides of the Genesee River.

“Should it be relocated?”

Yes, to previously disturbed areas, abandoned industrial sites, old quarries, and landfills etc.

Can HSS prove NYS Article 10 Law pertains to federally established Canawaugus Reservation Seneca territory?

Invenergy’s own consultants have stated the treaty supposedly dispossessing the Canawaugus Reservation from the Seneca’s hands was “arguably fraudulent” and “never ratified by the U.S. Senate.” The U.S. Constitution Article VI, paragraph 2, reads “all Treaties made or which shall be made under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” Article 2, section 2, reads “He [the president] shall have Power, by and with the Advise and Consent of the Senate to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” The Supreme Court decision, July 9th, 2020, McGirt v. Oklahoma, 591 U.S., upholds a Native Nation retaining jurisdictional authority on Land not disestablished. This, along with constitutional points, should have consideration. The Seneca people must prioritize this matter of sovereign jurisdictional rights injustice on tribal land.

The unborn must hear the story of the challenge to cure historical amnesia and to keep our communities connected to the land which is the source of our protection, not the concept that the green or clean energy brand is now a marketable commodity for corporate profit.

This brings all of us to the question of the century when it comes to addressing climate change.

Will it actually save the humans?

If this story moves you to action or leaves you asking more questions why, perhaps that will be the answer.

Editor’s note: Paul Winnie is a member of the Tonawanda Seneca Nation and a resident of the Tonawanda Reservation near the village of Akron, Erie County. In December 2020, Invenergy decided to remove more than 70 acres from two parcels in its proposed 1,268-acre Horseshoe Solar project following an archaeological survey that found culturally-sensitive areas within the project site. Winnie’s reference to a toe bone in his headline refers to the discovery during Invenergy’s Phase 1B cultural resources survey last year of a bone. Specialists commissioned by Invenergy concluded the bone was non-human while an analyst hired by the Seneca Nation concluded it was of human origin.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1