Cayuga Nation Traditional Government Appeals BIA Decision
Agency Violates Own Rules to Interfere in Cayuga Affairs
January 16, 2017 – Seneca Falls, NY—The Cayuga Nation’s traditional government – the Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers – on Friday appealed the December 15, 2016 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) decision declaring a group organized by Clint Halftown to be the government of the Cayuga Nation. The decision by BIA Eastern Regional Director Bruce Maytubby would strip the Clan Mothers of their longstanding role in the Nation’s government, a role Clint Halftown has previously supported. It would put in place a mail-in survey process to substitute for the traditional processes by which Haudenosaunee Nations like the Cayuga Nation have always chosen their leaders.
“Far from being a neutral decision-maker, Maytubby prejudged the viability of the campaign of support process and secretly colluded with the Halftown faction while excluding Nation leaders then-recognized by the United States,” the appeal says. “Mr. Maytubby reversed existing federal policy on supporting mail-in surveys as a means of Cayuga governance without providing any evidence whatsoever – much less substantial evidence – to justify such a reversal.”
The appeal highlights secret communications and meetings between Mr. Maytubby and the Halftown group and points out Mr. Maytubby’s own admission that the mail-in survey process would violate federal law on tribal elections.
“This arbitrary and capricious decision and the backroom dealings that preceded it sets dangerous precedent for federal interference in the affairs of sovereign Indigenous Nations,” explained attorney Joseph Heath, who represents the Nation’s traditional leaders, many of whom have been recognized by the BIA and acknowledged as leaders by the Halftown group for more than a decade. “This violates not only Haudenosaunee law but also federal law protecting Indian nations’ right to self-governance, and their right to self-determination under Article 3 of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”
Sachem Samuel George of the Cayuga Nation noted, “Centuries of bad policies by the United States and its Bureau of Indian Affairs have resulted in the challenges our people face today. We have survived genocide, being forced from our lands, having our children taken from us. In recent decades, the United States’ policies have improved in their acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Indigenous Nations, giving us the freedom to create a better future for our people. Maytubby’s decision, on the other hand, is a return to the dark ages of Indian Affairs.”