Only Third American Indian Tribal Nation in the U.S. to offer Program
CATTARAUGUS/ALLEGANY TERRITORIES SENECA NATION OF INDIANS – Since 2009, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires U.S. and Canadian travelers, including Seneca Nation tribal citizens, to present a passport or other WHTI-approved document that denotes identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. at land or sea borders while traveling within the western hemisphere. A result of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), the goal of WHTI is to facilitate entry while strengthening U.S. border security. Standard documents enable the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to quickly and reliably identify a traveler.
Pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement the Seneca Nation entered into with DHS, the Nation began accepting enrollment applications in early May for the WHTI-compliant Enhanced Tribal Identification Card (ETC) to Seneca tribal members who can prove identity, Nation citizenship and recognized U.S. or Canadian citizenship.
“This is a very new and innovative program that the Nation has been working on for many years as an exclusive benefit to our members to continue the protection of our sovereign rights,” said Seneca Nation President Barry E. Snyder, Sr. “The Seneca Nation will be just the third Indian tribe in the country to issue ETCs. Professionals in the Seneca Nation’s Clerk’s Office (ETC-authorized staff) have been specially-trained to administer this program, answer questions of our members and, most importantly, protect the private information of each of our applicants.”
An ETC can be used instead of a passport or EDL when returning to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, and some countries in theCaribbean by land or sea. An ETC is not acceptable for international air travel, but can be used as proof of identity to board a domestic flight. An ETC can also reduce the amount of time it takes to go through customs, since DHS has designated it for use in the “Ready Lane” at certain land border ports of entry, including the Peace Bridge. Members can still obtain non-ETC, or regular tribal ID, cards for general identification purposes. However, those cards will no longer be accepted by DHS for purposes of identity and citizenship when crossing the border. Members are not restricted from obtaining both an ETC and a regular tribal ID (non-ETC) card.
Due to the secure process of obtaining an ETC, enrollment must be made in-person at the Nation’s ETC Office located within the Clerk’s Office at either the Allegany or Cattaraugus locations.
Applicants are required to make an appointment to submit the application and mandatory identification documentation, undergo an interview, and submit to both a facial image and digital signature capture. This is an elective program and not mandatory for Nation members. The Seneca Nation Clerk’s Office can be reached at either (716) 532-4900 or (716) 945-1790.