Appeals court leaves internal leadership debate for Cayuga Nation

The New York Court of Appeals this week reversed a lower court decision on a lawsuit between the federally recognized leadership of the Cayuga Nation and members of its traditional government, saying the leadership dispute that dates back more than a decade is outside the state’s jurisdiction.

The lawsuit was brought in 2017 by the Cayuga Nation Council under Clint Halftown against members of the traditional council — referred to by the court as the Jacobs Council for defendant William Jacobs, but also known previously as the Unity Council — shortly after the Bureau of Indian Affairs accepted Halftown as the Nation’s federally recognized representative.

The lawsuit sought to force the members or supporters of the traditional government to turn over nation-owned properties under their control in Seneca County and to pay damages for the “takeover” of said properties.

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