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Cayuga Nation files defamation lawsuit against Fayette resident

Attorneys representing the Cayuga Nation filed a defamation and civil rights complaint against the Fayette man who has been an outspoken critic of tribal leadership.

“Attorneys representing the Cayuga Nation filed a defamation and civil rights complaint today against Charles Bowman for his continuous spreading of harmful misinformation regarding the Cayuga Nation and the Cayuga Nation Police Department,” a press release from the Nation read on Wednesday.

Representatives of the Nation say the complaint follows a series of claims made by Bowman during and after the January 1, 2022 takeover of the 126 E. Bayard Street property owned by the Cayuga Nation.

The Cayuga Nation categorizes the claims made by Bowman as false and noted two criminal charges filed against Bowman in 2021.

Plaintiffs in the complaint include Clint Halftown, leader of the Cayuga Nation, and Mark Lincoln, Cayuga Nation Police Department Superintendent. The complaint alleges that Bowman has repeatedly and baselessly made allegations about lawful actions undertaken by Halftown, and has targeted Lincoln “in an apparent effort to harm his standing in the community and its faith in the impartial performance of his duties.”

“We will not tolerate continued attempts to delegitimize the Cayuga Nation Police Department’s authority and incite violence within our community,” Halftown said in a prepared statement for the press. “Undermining legitimate law enforcement authorities is harmful to public safety and dangerously implies Native Americans are not entitled to our inherent sovereign rights. The Cayuga Nation, like all sovereign Indian nations, has every right to establish laws, governing bodies and law enforcement agencies within our reservation. These anti-Indian claims have the dangerous potential to weaken our rightful autonomy and present a false impression about our strength as a people—a perception that Native Americans have worked tirelessly to overcome.”

The Cayuga Nation cited a series of Facebook videos, which were recorded and published by Bowman.

“Our community, Nation members, police, and neighbors deserve better than the harmful and unfounded allegations that Mr. Bowman and other local criminals continue to spew in an effort to undermine the rightful authority of both the Cayuga Nation’s governing body and its legitimate law enforcement agency,” Halftown added. “We will continue to push back against these threatening and false claims that impact our community and the media’s right to truthful and accurate information.”