The ongoing battle for control of the Cayuga Nation in central New York is heading back to court, as one faction seeks the return of businesses and other assets taken over by another.
The Cayuga Nation Council on Friday said that the federal Interior Board of Indian Appeals had rejected a motion by the Unity Council seeking to overturn a federal decision recognizing Clint Halftown and his council as the official governing body of the Nation.
Halftown's group also said that it filed a complaint Friday in New York State Supreme Court seeking the return of properties, inventory and other assets taken from its control in 2014. The properties include businesses, offices and a security trailer in Seneca County.
The complaint, according to a news release, "also seeks monetary damages from Cayuga and non-Cayuga individuals who have been in possession of these properties and assets and seized them for their own personal use and benefit."
Last year, Halftown distributed voting ballots to some Cayuga Nation members, requesting their support for his council. The ballots did not include anyone else to vote for, but the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs used the information as part of its process in determining the Halftown group should be the official Nation leaders.
Joseph Heath, the attorney for a Nation group formerly known as the Unity Council, filed a motion questioning the validity of the decision to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals. Heath said at the time that if the motion was unsuccessful, "then the avenue for challenging that becomes federal court. We don't want to be in federal court, but if there are no other alternatives, we are certainly prepared to do that."
Heath added that he would likely file in the federal district court in Washington D.C. where there are more cases handled involving the review of agency decisions.