Rescind BIA Recognition of Halftown; Recognize the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs Instead

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Clint Halftown, the current BIA-recognized representative for the Cayuga Nation, has perpetrated violent, oppressive acts against Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (aka Cayuga) citizens. These actions include the overnight demolition of a longhouse, daycare center, businesses, dwellings, gardens and fruit trees, and more. Halftown is currently attempting to use legal action to get Seneca County sheriffs to reinforce the legitimacy of his self-proclaimed “Tribal Court.” The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs, as well as Clanmothers and citizens, do not recognize this "Tribal Court," and view it as illegitimate. If the Seneca County sheriffs end up enforcing the “Tribal Court”’s judgment, doing so would set a precedent of acknowledging his “Tribal Court” as legitimate, and lay the foundation for potential future evictions of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ people from their homes on their original territory. People of the U.S. have an obligation to hold the U.S. government accountable for the injustices caused by enabling this violence and violating Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ self-determination.

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To: Bureau of Indian Affairs
From: [Your Name]

To Whom it May Concern:

I am writing to bring your attention to the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga Nation) Council of Chiefs’ May 2021 letter, in which they call for your office to cease recognition of Clint Halftown as the “federal representative” of the Cayuga Nation (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ), and to instead recognize the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs as the rightful governing body of the Nation. A link to the letter is at https://linktr.ee/HalftownMustGo for your convenience.

Given that your mission includes “enhancing the quality of life” of Indigenous peoples of the U.S., I also wish to bring your attention to the words of various Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ community members, who recently shared their stories regarding the violent, oppressive acts perpetrated by Clint Halftown against Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ citizens. (These actions include the overnight demolition of a longhouse, daycare center, businesses, dwellings, gardens and fruit trees, and more.) You can find those stories at the #HalftownMustGo #ReadTheLetter YouTube page.

I am concerned by the way the Bureau of Indian Affairs has chosen to engage in the Nation-to-Nation relationship with the Cayuga Nation. It is my understanding that the Cayuga Nation Council of Chiefs, as well as the Clanmothers and citizens to whom they are accountable, have refused Clint Halftown’s ability to speak and act in the name of the Nation, and have communicated as much to you on multiple occasions. Further, how can you justify recognizing a leadership council of the Nation other than the one recognized by the governing body of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy - the Grand Council of Chiefs?

To me, such a position is untenable, offensive, and reflective of our Nation’s much-too-common imposition into the governance affairs of Indigenous Nations -- a pattern that is at odds with your stated goal of supporting the self-determination of Indigenous Nations. I ask that you honor the Two Row (#HonorTheTwoRow) treaty by committing to correcting your office’s ongoing interference in the governance affairs of the Cayuga Nation (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ). In accordance with the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, I urge you to do all in your power to see that this request reaches the desk of Secretary of the Interior Haaland, if not President Biden.

In sum, I believe your office has erred repeatedly in affirming its recognition of the “leadership” of Clint Halftown, facilitating his usurpation of the mantle of Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ governance. I kindly ask you to reconsider and rescind his official recognition by your office, and to instead recognize the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs.