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Dispute between Cayuga Indian factions leads to buildings being demolished

21 hours ago

One of the buildings taken down early Saturday.
Credit Greg Cotterill

A longstanding dispute over leadership of the Cayuga Indian Nation came to a head over the weekend, with some buildings torn down on Cayuga Nation land in Seneca Falls.

The buildings, which house some businesses, as well as a longhouse and day care center, were bulldozed early Saturday morning, apparently at the direction of Cayuga Nation Leader Clint Halftown.

Halftown is the federally recognized leader of the Cayugas, but he has been at odds with another faction of Cayuga Indians, called the Unity Council.

WEOS reporter Greg Cotterill visited the knocked-down buildings on Saturday.

"When I got here early Saturday morning it looked like bombs went off, or hurricane, tornado, ripped through," Cotterill said. "There are 12 different buildings that are either totally demolished or partially demolished; they came in around 2:30 Saturday morning with heavy equipment, and just started wrecking buildings." 

A statement from the Cayuga Nation says it chose to demolish certain buildings partly for public safety reasons and it says the nation also does not want the buildings to become a target for further friction.

The statement from the Cayuga Nation also says that its law enforcement officers found drugs, guns and ammunition during a search of the properties, and six people were released without charges. A seventh person, accused of possession of methamphetamine, was arraigned by a judge for the Cayuga Nation. 

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors met Sunday and approved a motion calling for U.S. Marshals to get involved to ensure safety in the area. The Board of Supervisors also passed resolutions  asking the US Department of Housing and Urban Devlopment to withhold a $287,000 grant it awarded last week to the Cayuga's, and they are calling on U.S. Attorney, James Kennedy to launch an investigation into the actions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

(The full statement from the Cayuga Nation is below)

Cayuga Nation Statement-2-22-20 by WXXI News on Scribd