Unrest within Cayuga Nation clear as tension escalates after weekend destruction
– By Josh Durso
Protesters lined up along State Route 89 in Seneca Falls little more than 24 hours after members of the Cayuga Nation woke up stunned to learn than businesses, schools, and other property had been destroyed.
The showing of support was significant, as dozens sat across from armed members of the Cayuga Nation Police Department.
Signs reading, “It’s not just their homes, you destroyed the whole community,” and “Clint Halftown does not represent Cayuga Nation” sent a strong message to the community-at-large, signaling that the ongoing leadership dispute within the Cayuga Nation is anything but settled.
“Give my people the peace and prosperity they deserve,” another sign read. Some within the Cayuga Nation community say the split is over the kind of lifestyle that its members want to pursue.
“We’re seeking a simple, traditional lifestyle,” one member of the Cayuga Nation said. “Clint Halftown doesn’t represent us. He represents greed.”
“Halftown must step down,” another sign read, as protesters cheered as cars rolled by the devastation.
The location of the protest was significant. While serving as the epicenter of the weekend’s destruction, it served as a backdrop to onlookers from the outside. “This is the kind of greed and corruption we’ve been facing for years. We’ve had enough,” another protester said.
The Cayuga Nation contends that leadership acted within it’s right demolishing parts of the properties along Route 89. Those spaces were occupied and operated by members of the competing faction within the Cayuga Nation, which has fought for control of the entire group.
A Bureau of Indian Affairs decision in 2019 settled the dispute, or so some thought, leaving Halftown in charge. Several months after that decision, the properties were abruptly demolished.
Criticism of the Cayuga Nation and BIA was equal within the protesting crowd. Signs pointing to the BIA’s role in the entire ordeal were plentiful. “BIA supports terrorism,” one sign read.
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