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Federal government upholds decision on Cayuga Nation leadership

Federal government upholds decision on Cayuga Nation leadership


Clint Halftown of the Cayuga Nation speaks at a meeting of the Cayuga County Legislature in 2014

The federal government upheld a decision by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Eastern Regional Director Bruce Maytubby to recognize Clint Halftown and his council as the leaders of the Cayuga Nation.

A decision by Michael S. Black, acting assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, affirmed Maytubby's decision, calling it "final" and "no further administrative review is necessary."

The BIA, a branch of the U.S. Department of the Interior, had announced its decision to recognize Clint Halftown, Tim Twoguns and several others as the governing council of the nation in December. The group formerly known as the Unity Council, represented by Attorney Joseph Heath, had filed an appeal of the decision in January.

The leadership dispute between the two factions has been longstanding, stemming back to 2004. Halftown attempted to end it last year by sending out polls to nation citizens on his membership roll. The former Unity Council argued that Halftown sent those polls to a select group of people, and the polls did not include an option to vote for another party. Besides that, Heath had said voting is not part of Haudenosaunee law. Clan mothers are the ones responsible for choosing the nation's council.

According to the BIA's July 14 decision, the appeal stated that the BIA does not have the authority to render a final decision, Maytubby's actions violated the nation's right of self-governance, Maytubby's conduct violated the former Unity Council's due process rights and finally "they believe that the Regional Director (Maytubby) acted arbitrarily and capriciously in rendering the Decision." Black rejected those points and said he does have jurisdiction to render a decision.

"On behalf of the citizens of the Cayuga Nation, we are greatly pleased by this decision," Halftown said in a release. "It signifies an end to the bitter turmoil created by dissident members of our Nation. More important, it represents a new beginning where we can all work together for the betterment of our people."

Heath could not be reached for comment Friday.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.


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