Clint Halftown, who serves as federal representative of the Cayuga Nation, says a 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court this week confirms that the tribal group has authority over lands it owns in Cayuga and Seneca counties.
“This decision confirms what the Cayuga Nation has been saying for all these years: our historic reservation continues to exist and can only be disestablished by Congressional action,” said Cayuga Nation federal representative Clint Halftown in a press release. “It sends the most powerful of all messages to state and federal authorities who have brazenly and consistently challenged the status of our reservation. It is the greatest victory our people could have hoped for in this case and it is a victory for all Indian nations.”
In the decision, the court ruled a large chunk of Oklahoma remains a reservation and that local prosecutors do not have authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants.
“Today we are asked whether the land these treaties promised remains an Indian reservation for purposes of federal criminal law. Because Congress has not said otherwise, we hold the government to its word,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in the decision.
This legal battle has been ongoing for more than two decades, and has been exacerbated by an internal leadership struggle. Earlier this year, things reached a boiling point when several buildings on property owned by the Cayuga Nation were demolished by the Halftown faction.