Alcohol is now allowed in Indian Country: BIA grants Cayuga Nation approval for liquor ordinance

There have already been plenty of talks about selling cannabis, but the Cayuga Nation now possesses a liquor license to sell alcohol on territory soil as of last month on August 2, 2021. It’s been five years in the making, too.

United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland approved an adopted version of the Nation’s liquor control ordinance for the purpose of “regulating liquor transactions” in Indian Country throughout Seneca and Cayuga counties.

The Halftown Council adopted the Cayuga Nation Alcoholic Beverage Control Ordinance on August 2, 2016, which had been later amended less than a year later by December 5, 2017.

With the license now in effect, a commission has been created as the “sole Nation regulatory body” with jurisdiction and authority to control the manufacture, possession, sale, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages within the confines of their reservation.

The newly-formed Cayuga Nation Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, composed of three to five members each of whom would serve two-years, who are appointed by Clint Halftown and his federally-recognized council, will also appoint a chairperson for their commission as well. 

Their commissioner may not even be Indigenous, according to the Nation’s alcoholic beverage control ordinance with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Eastern Regional Office.

Prospective appointees must be at least 21-years-old “regardless of whether he or she is a citizen of the Nation” as long as there’s “no apparent conflict of interest created by the individual’s appointment” followed by a background investigation. The commission, separate from the Halftown Council, will consist of a majority of members who are not from the same council “at all times.”

It’s still unclear whether the Nation has appointed its respective commission members and commissioner, but with the recent purchase of the Deerhead Lakeside Restaurant & Bar in Seneca Falls and expansion of gambling businesses in the Village of Union Springs — alcohol and cannabis seem to be a focus of the Nation’s economic future.

Thats devastating news, Bud Shattuck, mayor of Village of Union Springs, told FingerLakes1.com. Upon hearing this news, we assume it could create a potentially more than negative problem here in our Village, should it affect our local grocery store: the Union Springs Supermarket.

DocSide Wine and Spirits, a brand-new liquor store located on 151 Cayuga St., just had a soft-opening two-weeks ago and a grand opening to much fanfare last Friday, August 27. Now, Shattuck is concerned about the economic viability of their newest alcoholic vendor’s addition to the downtown district and other alcoholic-centric businesses, patiently awaiting to hear back from the Nation about their latest intentions.

Editor’s Note: The Cayuga Nation has not commented about their recently-approved liquor ordinance yet. The story will be updated if or whenever a statement is provided.