Appeals court upholds ruling on Cayuga Nation’s Seneca Falls properties

A mid-level appeals court has upheld a ruling by a state Supreme Court justice that ordered members of the Cayuga Nation to vacate five properties in Seneca Falls.

In a 3-2 decision issued Wednesday, the state Appellate Division Fourth Department upheld the September 2017 decision that said properties need to be turned over to Clint Halftown and his federally recognized Cayuga Nation Council.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, a branch of the U.S. Department of Interior, last year formally recognized a Halftown-led group as leaders of the nation over a challenge by an opposing group formerly known as the Unity Council.

Those members had retained control over Seneca County properties owned by the nation while court appeals have proceeded on both the federal and state level.

This week's decision upholds Seneca County Supreme Court Justice Dennis F. Bender order that the properties be vacated because the BIA has decided Halftown and his group is in control.

"We must defer to the federal executive branch’s determination that the Nation has resolved that issue, especially where, as here, that determination concerns the very property that is the subject of this act," the majority opinion states.

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