Washington, D.C. – October 02, 2019 – The National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) joins the Seneca Nation of Indians in mourning the passing Former Seneca Nation of Indians President Barry E. Snyder, Sr.
According to a press statement issued by the Seneca Nations of Indians, Snyder a visionary, respected and influential business and political leader of the Seneca Nation of Indians, passed away yesterday after a brief illness. He was 79.
NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said, “Barry Snyder will always be remembered as a true Indian country Warrior. He dedicated his life to not only advancing the economic opportunities of the Seneca Nation, but towards the best interests for all of Indian country. Under his leadership, the Seneca Nation became one of the finest examples of the success of tribal government gaming and economic diversification to follow. President Snyder was a giant supporter of the National Indian Gaming Association and a respected friend of mine."
The success of the Nation’s three casinos also helped open the door to a wave of new developments, improvements, and programming on the Nation’s territories.
While his stewardship of the Seneca Nation’s gaming enterprise often kept Snyder in a visible public position, it was far from his first trailblazing effort for the Seneca Nation’s economy. In 1983, Snyder opened Seneca Hawk, the first gas station and smoke shop on the Cattaraugus Territory, helping to change the Seneca economy forever. Today, his business employs nearly 100 people on the Cattaraugus Territory. He later helped the Nation bring high-stakes Bingo and Class II gaming to their territories.
A member of the Seneca Nation’s Hawk Clan, Snyder was born on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, where he was raised by his grandmother, who instilled in him a great sense of pride in being a member of the Seneca Nation, as well as a sense of respect for Seneca history and traditions. Snyder attended the Thomas Indian School and was a member of the graduating class of 1957 from Gowanda High School. After graduating from high school, Snyder served two years in the United States Army and later worked as a barber and at the General Motors plant in Tonawanda.
Upon returning home from his military service, Snyder became involved in Seneca political and government matters. He went on to serve eight terms on the Seneca Nation Council, and also served as Treasurer. Snyder was elected to the first of his five terms as Seneca Nation President in 1980. He was also elected to the Nation’s highest office in 1992, 2004, 2008, and 2012.
Under Snyder’s leadership, the Seneca Nation made significant political and economic gains and transformed the way of life on the Cattaraugus and Allegany Territories. Among his administrations’ many accomplishments were the construction of world-class facilities for healthcare, education, recreation, and public safety. The Nation also established new housing opportunities, so the Seneca people can live on-territory and made incredible gains in renewable energy. In addition, the Nation launched its own Seneca Transit System and created Seneca Strong, a program aimed at combatting substance abuse and addiction.
The Seneca Nation’s most notable economic gain under Snyder’s direction was the success of its three Class III casino gaming properties: Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino in Salamanca, and Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino in downtown Buffalo. As the longtime chairman of the Seneca Gaming Corporation board of directors, Snyder played a critical role in setting the vision and growth strategy for the company, including completing significant expansions at all three locations. Today, Seneca Gaming Corporation is one of the largest private employers in the region, with nearly 4,000 employees. Even after relinquishing his chairmanship upon learning of his illness, Snyder continued to serve on the board of directors until his death.
In addition to his wife, Deanna, Snyder is survived by, Scott Snyder and Marie Williams, Ryan Snyder and Millie Fox; a sister, Maxine Jimerson; two brothers, Art John, and Dale Snyder; his grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandson, and numerous relatives and friends. Mr. Snyder was a proud member of American Legion Post #1587.
Funeral Services are still being arranged.