Sheriff Tim Luce provided an update on the demolition of Cayuga Nation-owned properties in Seneca County on Wednesday.
On August 3rd, 2022, at about 5:58 p.m. deputies were dispatched to 2778 County Road 124 in the town of Varick for a suspicious activity complaint.
It was discovered that the Cayuga Nation Police Department, under the direction of Clint Halftown, were at that location. The property is owned by the Cayuga Nation.
The Nation Police produced a copy of a demolition order issued by the Nation zoning and code enforcement officer. In a press release, the Nation claimed the structures were vacant.
Deputies and state police at the scene observed a conflict in progress between the Cayuga Nation Police officers and a group of individuals who oppose Halftown as leader of the Cayuga Nation.
Sheriff Luce said deputies thought the situation was escalating.
He said, as has been the case in past conflicts between factions of the Cayuga Nation, deputies did not take sides. Both groups challenged the legitimacy of each other. However, the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs has recognized Clint Halftown as the federally recognized leader of the Cayuga Nation.
The group opposing Halftown – sometimes referred to as the ‘traditionalists’ – also challenged the legitimacy of the Cayuga Nation Police Department.
Luce says the United States Department of the Interior has advised Seneca County law enforcement agencies that the Cayuga Nation has the right to form their police department and have jurisdiction on Nation-owned property.
County Road 124 was shut down between Route 89 and Kings Corners Road for all but local traffic during the event for about two hours. Officers maintained a foot patrol presence on CR 124 during the event to keep the peace and keep local residents safe.
An ambulance was staged near the scene and responded to check persons exposed to pepper spray that was deployed by the CIN Police during the event. At the time of this release no personal injuries have been reported to the Sheriff’s Office. No officers were injured during the event.
Two buildings at that location – a house and barn – were demolished.
Sheriff Luce urged opposing groups of the Cayuga Nation to find common ground and put an end to the conflict. He’s also offering a safe and neutral location at the sheriff’s office for reps from both groups to meet if they so desire.
Anyone in need of humanitarian aid, or those who may have been displaced due to the demolition can contact the county at (315) 539-1830 for assistance.