Serial Entrepreneur JC Seneca Speaks to the Power of Pursuing a Vision

Native Pride Travel Plaza houses a smoke shop, gas station, high-speed Diesel pumps and popular diner in Irving, New York — where founder JC Seneca is pictured enjoying a cup of coffee. (Courtesy Seneca)

It takes a leap of faith to follow a vision. 

JC Seneca, a Seneca Nation entrepreneur, took the initiative to pursue his dream.

“In the 1980s, after I had gotten out of the United States Airforce, I had a vision and a dream to start my own business. Certainly there were many different businesses that I wanted to start, but I dreamed and had a vision of one day creating a truckstop located on our territory,” he said during a one-on-one interview with Native Business Founder, Publisher and CEO Gary Davis during the Native Business Virtual Summit live broadcast. 

Back in 1987, Seneca had just enough money to purchase 60 cartons of cigarettes. He parked his camper on the side of the road, and set up a table with those 60 cartons. “It was like a little fruit stand, but instead of fruit, I’m selling cigarettes,” Seneca explained.  

He took revenue generated from that roadside operation and put it toward building a small convenience store called Native Pride — which, about eight years down the road, he would relocate and vastly expand to a 50-acre property called Native Pride Travel Plaza. 

Today, Native Pride Travel Plaza houses a smoke shop, gas station, high-speed Diesel pumps and popular diner in Irving, New York.


Today Seneca is the Founder and owner of TallChief Hemp, Native Pride Travel Plaza, Six Nations Manufacturing and BUFFALO Cigarettes — each one self-capitalized with the income created through another business. 

Seneca currently employs more than 100 people across his enterprises.

In 2011, he started the JC Seneca Foundation, a nonprofit committed to advancing healthy living in body, mind and spirit for the people of the Seneca Nation and surrounding communities.

READ MORE: Meet JC Seneca, Founder of Six Nations Manufacturing and Native Business Top 50 Entrepreneurs Honoree 

Davis applauded Seneca’s foresight and will to assert self-sovereignty like his ancestors who walked this earth before him. “Entrepreneurship is one of our most traditional activities,” Davis said. 

READ MORE: Cahokia to Today: Gary & Carmen Davis Reflect on Indigenous Entrepreneurial Spirit and Self-Sufficiency