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Tension within Cayuga Nation escalates as press conference becomes violent

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SENECA FALLS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Cayuga Nation Council of Chiefs (Unity Council) held a press conference Saturday afternoon at the site where buildings were demolished last week. Minutes after the press conference, violence broke out between members and supporters of the Unity Council and the Cayuga Nation Police, a police force established by Clint Halftown, the Cayuga Nation Representative federally recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

At the press conference, chiefs and clanmothers of the Cayuga Nation stated that they do not recognize Clint Halftown and his council as the government of the Cayuga Nation. In a release, chiefs said the current legitimate leadership of the Cayuga Nation is confirmed by the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

The seven Cayuga Nation chiefs who held the press conference brought supporters to Saturday’s event from other American Indian nations that make up the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

After the press conference, a group of people supporting the Cayuga Nation Council of Chiefs crossed caution tape and entered the area guarded by the Cayuga Nation Police where the buildings were destroyed last week.

The interaction between the Cayuga Nation Police and members who support the Unity Council became violent as punches were thrown. State law enforcement monitored the situation, but did little to intervene. The violence was eventually stopped when the Cayuga Nation Police used pepper spray on members and supporters of the Unity Council.

In a release sent out on February 23, the Cayuga Nation Council of Chiefs said, “Clint Halftown and his followers have passed through the circle of joined arms, removing themselves from the domain of the Cayuga Nation and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.”  

The Unity Council views Cliff Halftown’s council as an entity of the United States, and at the press conference Saturday, the chiefs want, “any and all outside agencies who assisted Clint Halftown in the destruction of buildings to be held accountable under their own system of justice as an act of terrorism.”

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