Former Seneca Nation President Cyrus "Cy" Schindler is hoping to make a political comeback.
He has decided to run for president again, joining a crowded field for the Indian tribe's Nov. 6 elections.
"I see some stuff going on in our nation, and I think that maybe I can make a difference," Schindler told The Buffalo News on Friday. "I've lived here all my life, and I think I know what our people want and need."
Already running for president are Tribal Council Chairman Richard E. Nephew, former four-time president Barry E. Snyder Sr. and Norman "Cochise" Redeye, former chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corp.
Aaron J. Pierce, a Seneca who runs cigarette businesses and an ammunition business, also has been campaigning for the $185,000-a-year post, but he so far has not officially registered to run.
Schindler, 64, is a retired ironworker whose family runs the successful Big Indian cigarette business. He served a two-year term as president of the Senecas that concluded in November 2002.
During his presidency, the Senecas took one of the most important steps - from a financial standpoint - in the tribe's history when they enacted a casino gambling agreement with New York State. Signed in August 2002, the agreement led to the opening of casinos in Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo.
The dispute with New York State over the establishment of state-run casinos at two local horse-racing tracks is perhaps the most serious issue facing the Senecas, Schindler said. The Senecas have reacted to the state casinos by withholding $460 million in gambling proceeds that were supposed to be paid to the state and the cities of Niagara Falls, Salamanca and Buffalo.
Schindler also announced that a 28-foot fiberglass statue his family is famous for has been repaired and re-erected. The statue overlooks the Thruway in Irving.
The "Big Indian" statue, depicting a powerful-looking Indian chief, was taken down after it was badly damaged by vandals in June.
"It's been repaired, repainted, and it's back up today," said Chrissy Schindler, Schindler's daughter.
The current Seneca president, Robert Odawi Porter, cannot run for re-election because Seneca laws do not allow a president to repeat. He is running for treasurer in November's election, as a running mate of Nephew.