President George Bush’s attempt to gain votes from Native Americans is a set back for local residents opposed to Indian Landclaims. Officials from the Oneida Indian Nation were among a group of American Indian leaders who met with President George Bush at the White House yesterday. Oneida Representative Ray Halbritter was in Washington for this week’s opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. During his brief address to tribal leaders, the President announced he had signed an executive memorandum to all federal agencies directing them to respect tribal sovereignty and self-determination. In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Halbritter said the president’s message was welcomed by Native Americans because sovereignty is the biggest issue in the Indian community. He said Bush’s affirmation of Indian sovereignty is likely to win him votes in several states where Indians constitute a significant voting block — such as Arizona and New Mexico. The sovereignty issue is a major component of the City of Sherrill landclaim case headed to the U.S. Surpreme Court. Settling the 25-year old Cayuga Indian Landclaim and the future of casinos in the Finger Lakes Region and New York State hinges on the outcome of the Sherrill case.