4:11pm

Wed May 14, 2014
Regional Coverage

Cayuga Nation leadership dispute continues to smolder

The flare up in events is a boiling over of a decade-old dispute among senior members of the Cayuga, who disagree over who controls the nation and its business interests.

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On Saturday, a group of chiefs and clan mothers, who call themselves the Unity Council, again stopped one of the nation's two gas stations from conducting business, they said. They succeeded for about eight hours in stopping the Union Springs station from opening. They also stopped a nation-run gambling hall down the road from opening for about four hours.

The Lakeside Trading fuel station in Union Springs is operated by Clint Halftown, who says he's the rightful federal representative for the nation. 

The nation also owns a gas station by the same name in Seneca Falls. It's currently operated by the Unity Council. The council two weeks ago tried to take over both gas stations. Both remained closed for just over a day before each side re-opened one under their control.

Halftown has since sued the Unity Council to block them from entering Cayuga businesses. That didn't stop the council from doing what they did Saturday.

In a separate incident on Sunday, five people were arrested early in the morning after their vehicle was attempting to smash through a fence outside Great Swamp Enterprises in Seneca Falls, a Cayuga-run trucking business. 

Police say the car also rammed into a police cruiser that had responded. All five -- four men and a 17-year-old girl -- were intoxicated, police said, and arrested.

Halftown told the Auburn Citizen the five were supporters of the "dissident" Unity Council. His attorney did not return WRVO's phone call.

The Sunday morning event is "completely unrelated," Sam Campbell, a council supporter, told WRVO.

Halftown became federal representative in 2004, after the death of a chief, who was also the nation's representative to the U.S. government.

The Unity Council says they later removed Halftown once they were selected as the new chiefs by clan mothers. Halftown argues the Unity Council and Bureau of Indian Affairs overstepped in removing him.

Both sides contend they have the best interests of the nation in mind.

The two sides are scheduled to appear in court later this month.

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