“There are striking similarities between what happened on Jan. 6 in the United States Capitol and what happened at Cayuga this time last year.”
Today marks the first-year anniversary of an unannounced demolition of 12 Cayuga Nation-owned properties that occurred along State Route 89 in Seneca Falls.
Gabriel Galanda, the managing lawyer at Galanda Broadman, most recently called it “an insurrection” during a conversation with FingerLakes1.com from earlier last week.
“When the United States’ Department of Interior Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney rejected the tribe’s long-standing fee into trust applications, citing the insurrection and demolition of improvements of those properties this time last year, that was a seismic decision as it relates to the Cayuga,” Galanda told FingerLakes1.com.
That federal decision, which cited FingerLakes1.com’s reporting, “greatly diminished” the authority of Clint Halftown, the Cayuga Nation’s Bureau of Indian Affairs federal representative — even though the United States still recognizes his faction as the ruling leadership.
Sweeney, a Trump appointee, who denied the Nation’s 15-year longstanding land-into-trust application, “did so because of the chaos and insurrection,” according to Galanda.
“They lacked criminal jurisdiction over any non-Indian who was involved in any of the chaos or insurrection, or peaceful protests this time last year,” he mentioned.
In the eyes of Galanda, there’s “an absolute parallel” between the infamous events that occurred on Feb. 22, 2020 and Jan. 6, 2021.
“Much like the destruction of the U.S. Capitol, you had a Nation’s own leadership destroying its own property,” he explained.
The comparisons were strikingly clear to Galanda, who likened Halftown to Donald J. Trump, the former president of the United States, who just avoided a conviction verdict following his second impeachment trial.
“Much like Donald Trump turning a violent mob on the U.S. Capitol, causing it to be damaged and our democracy to be irreparably harmed, you have the Halftown faction turning its goons on its Nation’s owned lands, albeit in fee, and own buildings, to demolish them and arrest people who protested the demolition,” Galanda elaborated.
“This is a moment of truth, candidly for the Haudenosaunee people.”
Long before the Cayuga Nation conflict ever spiraled out of control just around this exact same time last year, the “Halftown saga” has affronted traditional Haudenosaunee ways of life for decades.
“It is all antithetical to Haudenosaunee democracy and Cayuga tradition,” Galanda said.
At the same time, however, the reprehensible acts of Halftown have previously happened elsewhere before — even among their allies within the actual boundaries of their Haudenosaunee homelands.
“But let’s not forget that a playbook for this has been developed within Haudenosaunee country for the last almost 50-years,” Galanda shared.
That playbook in-question had been created by Ray Halbritter, who once considered himself as the self-proclaimed federal representative of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York.
“Halftown has just ripped a play out of Halbritter’s playbook, and everybody out there knows it,” Galanda claimed.
Halbritter, also sought to evict Nation residents and private homeowners who faced the threat of having their properties demolished — an eerily similar chain of events, especially in comparison to Halftown’s recent leadership decisions.
Halbritter founded the “Oneida Indian Nation of New York,” which hasn’t been officially recognized by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
“Both Halbritter and Halftown have thumbed their nose at the Haudenosaunee Grand Council, thumbed their nose at clan-hood and thumbed their nose at clan mothers,” Galanda added.
Unlike the Oneida Nation, their land resides inside an established reservation, which provided some provisional authorities for the Nation to legally organize its police force and court systems within the boundaries of their recognized reservation.
In contrast, however, the federal government’s recent denial of the Cayuga Nation’s land-into-trust application essentially takes away any claims from the Nation that it can establish and maintain its own police force and courts, according to Galanda.
Now it’s time for “a much broader conversation” to occur among all of the Haudenosaunee peoples and Nations that comprise the Six Nations Confederacy.
“We are now going on decades upon decades of disrespect and erosion of traditional Haudenosaunee principles and the Halftown faction’s antics just prove positive that the Haudenosaunee are in peril in terms of their traditional ways, in my estimation,” Galanda concluded.
Want the latest headlines in your inbox each morning? Click here to sign up for our Morning Edition and Sunday Insight newsletters. They are dedicated to keeping you in the know. You can also download the FingerLakes1.com App for Android (All Android Devices) or iOS (iPhone, iPad)