Clint Halftown, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ federally-recognized representative, has broke his silence by publicly responding to the Seneca County Board of Supervisors recent decision to side with the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ leadership in sending a new letter to BIA, claiming the county is “not yet serious about establishing a positive government-to-government relationship.”
Maria Stagliano, a Nation spokesperson, sent a press statement to FingerLakes1.com shortly after supervisors met and unanimously voted for a Rule 29 on Tuesday, August 10.
“If and when I am invited to meet with representatives of Seneca County, I will do so upon appropriate terms, but to suggest that I failed to attend a meeting is simply untrue,” Halftown said.
Stagliano claims “at no time” did the supervisors ever issue an invitation to Halftown. Although Nation attorneys have been in “ongoing communication” with David Ettman, a county attorney, to iron out a possible meeting, as recently as August 5, their legal team advised the county to “issue a formal invitation.”
“To date, no such invitation has been received,” Stagliano wrote. “To be perfectly clear, Clint Halftown was not invited to the most recent Board of Supervisors meeting, but looks forward to a formal, scheduled invitation to strengthen the relationship between Seneca County and the Cayuga Nation.”
Sachem Chief Sam George of the Bear Clan never needed a formal invitation to speak before county elected officials on Tuesday evening — unlike Halftown.
“Moreover, and consistent with the communications our attorneys have exchanged with the County Attorney, it has been our understanding that the purpose of such a meeting would be to foster a better relationship with the County,” Halftown added. “The County’s willingness to meet with individuals like Sam George, who does not speak for the Cayuga Nation or its members, suggests the County is not yet serious about establishing a positive government-to-government relationship and still is in denial about its failed strategy regarding the Nation and its reservation.”
FingerLakes1.com has already filed a Freedom of Information Letter request to retrieve any email communications between Seneca Countyʼs attorneys and the Cayuga Nation ever since their standing committee meeting on Tuesday, July 27.