Seneca Falls,NY — The Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA) issued a narrow decision Wednesday that would allow Clint Halftown to access funds remaining in several small federal contracts with the Cayuga Nation. The Board did not rule on Nation’s leadership or whether Clint Halftown has a legal right to access the funds on the Nation’s behalf. Instead, the Board found the funds should be released while the Board considers whether the BIA’s February decision to release the funds was correct.
The IBIA’s decision is slated to take effect in mid-July, and the Unity Council is considering the options available to ensure federal funds due to the Nation are properly disbursed.
In its decision, the IBIA stressed that it considered release of funds to be wholly separate from recognition of leadership. “Allowing the Nation’s contracting representative to draw down funds,” wrote Administrative Judge Tom Blaser, “should not be –or cannot reasonably be – construed as conveying any implication on the ultimate issue of leadership…”
“We cannot let a federal agency’s decision on federal funds distract us from continuing to fight for the best interests of our people and of the generations to come,” commented Karl Hill, Faithkeeper for the Heron Clan of the Cayuga Nation and General Manager of Cayuga Nation Enterprises. “While we are disappointed that the IBIA is willing to allow Clint Halftown to access Nation grant funds despite having no leadership authority under our law, we are fully committed to promoting the Nation’s self-sufficiency and self-governance, and to improving relations with our non-Cayuga neighbors.”
The Cayuga Nation Unity Council was established under Cayuga law in 2011 and has been building the Nation’s economy and governmental infrastructure since peacefully assuming control of various Nation properties in April of 2014. The Council provides a wide range of services to its people, including transportation to medical appointments, language classes, upkeep and improvement of Nation-owned properties, housing assistance, and employment of many Cayuga citizens formerly out of work.
Cayuga Nation leaders and officials agree that the BIA grant fund decision has no impact on Cayuga law and does not change their commitment to govern their Nation; to improve the lives of their people; and to work with the United States on a Nation to Nation basis.
“There is only one path forward for us – to continue our responsibility to work for the benefit of our people,” explained Sachem Sam George. “And that is what we will do.”