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Cayuga Nation leadership dispute heading to court

Ryan Delaney
Sam George, a sachem chief of the Cayuga Nation and member of the Unity Council.

The decade-old leadership dispute between factions of the Cayuga Indian Nation that flared up last week is heading to the courts.

Clint Halftown, who claims to be the rightful federal representative of the Cayuga, filed lawsuits against a group of chiefs and clan mothers who say they are in charge of the nation.

That group, who call themselves the Unity Council, moved last week to take control of two nation-run gas stations and office buildings in the Finger Lakes.

Now one Lakeside Trading fueling station in Seneca Falls is under control of the Unity Council, while the one in Union Springs, on the other side of Cayuga Lake, is back in control of Halftown.

Halftown has asked courts in Seneca and Cayuga counties to block the Unity Council from stepping foot on the nation's business interests, which also include a gambling hall in Union Springs. Mr. Halftown's attorney did not return a message.

The Unity Council says Halftown was removed as federal representative a decade ago because he’s not looking out for the wellbeing of the nation.

Halftown calls the council "irresponsible dissidents" and says he’s working to create a better economic future for the Cayuga. He told the Auburn Citizen the court’s ruling will help restore order to their businesses.