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Cayuga Nation leadership dispute sparks demolition in NY

Posted on Feb 26, 2020 by

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) ~ A long-simmering leadership dispute in the Cayuga Indian Nation erupted over the weekend with bulldozers razing several buildings on Cayuga land in western New York.

The buildings demolished early Saturday in Seneca Falls housed several businesses, a longhouse and a day care center. A statement from the Cayuga Nation said it demolished the buildings for public safety reasons. It said the properties were seized in 2014 by a group that disputes the authority of Cayuga leader Clint Halftown, who ordered the demolition.

Halftown’s Cayuga Nation Council is officially recognized by the U.S. government. The opposing faction that controlled the buildings since 2014 is the Traditional Cayuga Nation Chiefs and Clan Mothers. A statement from the traditional faction’s counsel, Joe Heath, called Saturday’s demolition “viciously unlawful.”

The Seneca County Board of Supervisors met Sunday and approved motions calling for U.S. Marshals to get involved to ensure safety in the area and seeking a freeze on $287,000 in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funding to the Cayuga Nation.

Board chairman Robert Hayssen called the incident “domestic terrorism” before the board went into executive session on Sunday.