BIA won’t recognize Halftown as Cayuga’s leader

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has determined that any recognition of acting leader of the Cayuga Indian Nation and their business enterprises, Clint Halftown, would constitute an improper intrusion into tribal affairs. In a release issued today by the Law Office of Joseph J. Heath, Esq. in Syracuse, it was announced that the Federal BIA has declined to recognize Halftown.In a letter dated May 15, the BIA acknowledged the ongoing Cayuga leadership dispute, which has been created by Mr. Halftown’s refusal to comply with Cayuga Nation law and step down from his position. The BIA has asked the Cayuga Nation Unity Council, as well as Mr. Halftown’s faction, to submit information to the BIA on two issues:1. Whether there is a need for a recognition decision by the BIA, and…2. What leadership is properly authorized to represent the Nation pursuant to Cayuga law.The Unity Council of the Cayuga Nation applauded the BIA’s decision not to recognize Halftown. “The Cayuga Nation governs its people under Cayuga Nation law, and under our law Mr. Halftown has been removed,” said condoled Chief and Unity Council member William (Chuck) Jacobs, Heron Clan. “Three years ago, our Clan Mothers reformed our Nation’s government and created the Unity Council, which is the only Council with authority to govern our Nation and provide for our people.” The Unity Council reunites all three active Cayuga Nation clans, bridging a divide created by the Halftown faction.The Unity Council has taken peaceful steps toward an orderly transition of authority over the Nation and its enterprises, and is working on initiatives to better serve its people and protect its culture, including establishment of a Cayuga language- and culture-focused daycare center in a building formerly used by Mr. Halftown as a base of operations for hired security forces.“The new daycare center will create jobs for Cayuga citizens and provide culturally appropriate care for our youngest generation,” said Turtle Clan Mother Brenda Bennett. In response to the Unity Council’s efforts, Mr. Halftown’s faction has filed multiple lawsuits in county courts, seeking application of state law to the Nation’s affairs and asking that the Nation’s leaders be arrested. The Unity Council is defending these lawsuits, which are also opposed by Seneca County.The Unity Council hopes to move forward in developing economic initiatives that will benefit the Nation and the Central New York region as a whole. The Unity Council strongly opposes bingo and casino gambling on Nation lands and believes other economic development initiatives hold more promise for the Nation and the region.“We are relieved that the BIA no longer recognizes Clint Halftown and optimistic that the BIA will defer to Cayuga Nation law and respect the governing authority of the Unity Council,” said Joe Heath, an attorney for the Unity Council.

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