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Turtle Clan responds to BIA’s Cayuga Nation decision

On Friday the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs issued an interim decision in the leadership dispute within the Cayuga Indian Nation with operations in Seneca Falls and Union Springs. The following is a release from Turtle Clan member Justin Bennett concerning the BIA’s decision:For the interim, the 2006 Council, with Clint Halftown as the Federal Representative was recognized by the BIA. Emphasis was added to the word interim, in hopes that the Cayuga Nation can resolve its own disputes. The BIA does not want to issue a decision on the merits at this time. The BIA wants to give more time to the Cayuga Nation to resolve this leadership dispute on its own. Yesterday’s decision was an interim decision. The Turtle Clan is pleased with the decision of Ms. Poitra. The Turtle Clan recognized prior to the February 20th decision deadline, that the Eastern Regional Director had a tough decision to make. We submitted paperwork focusing on the legal merits of the dispute. We wrote, given that the Eastern Regional Director recognized the Unity Council in August of 2011; and notwithstanding the IBIA vacating that decision, the appellate decision did provide significant breadcrumbs for Ms. Poitra to rule in favor of the Unity Council. However, Ms. Poitra found a way to provide more time for the Cayuga Nation to decide for itself this leadership issue.In conclusion, the Turtle Clan is pleased with the interim decision. We feel her decision puts the responsibility back into the hands of the Cayuga Nation. It does not recognize the Unity Council and nor does the decision recognize the Halftown group for the long term. This decision puts Mr. Halftown in an accountable position. We are also please that Mr. Halftown has promised that if the BIA would issue an interim recognition decision [which they did yesterday], he and his group committed to work with the Department in “any way” to find a more permanent solution. We feel the permanent solution is yet to be discovered. The Turtle Clan of the Cayuga Nation stands ready and willing to work with both factions in order to establish a documented and stable government. It is our hope that the Cayuga Nation can find peace soon for the benefit of its people and for the benefit of its neighbors in Seneca and Cayuga Counties.Relevant Points to Consider: Point #1When the Nation wants to renew it’s ISDA contract, it is highly probable that the merits will be examined. The current funds that have not been issued and are on hold, will be released to Clint Halftown by virtue of this interim decision. Further, the BIA will file a motion to have this interim decision made effective immediately, if an appeal is filed. This is in order for the BIA to close out the contracts and deliver the funds to the Cayuga Nation.Point #2It was also stated that ANY future contracts, including the renewal of the ISDA contract willrequire a full Council resolution of the 2006 Council. If the merits are examined, due to any request of additional funding AND a lack of a bona-fide Nation resolution of the 2006 Council, it is possible that the actions of the clanmothers could be recognized. If the actions of the clanmothers are recognized, that decision will not be an interim decision. In conclusion, the BIA hopes that the Nation can resolve this leadership issue on its own in the near future, without BIA interference.Point #3The BIA also declined to review and verify the “Campaign of Support” as the Halftown Group requested: “The Nation needs to come to a common understanding of what role, if any, a campaign of support should play in the selection or retention of its leadership.” This also applies to the central question of clan mothers and the appointment and removal of leaders on the Council.Point #4″We find encouraging the promise made by the Halftown group … committing that if BIA would issue an interim recognition decision, the Halftown group would agree “to work with the Department in any way [the Halftown group is] directed to find a more permanent solution.”

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