Frequently Asked Questions
What this all boils down to is a matter of the sovereignty and self-determination of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ people, and the obligation of the U.S. to respect that sovereignty. You can read a big-picture summary or an in-depth background over on our Media Resources page.
Land-into-Trust is a process by which the DOI acquires the title to land (property) that is collectively owned by a federally recognized Native nation or tribe. Thereafter, the DOI "holds" that land in trust for the purported benefit of the nation/tribe. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) describes the Land-into-Trust process as "one of the most important functions" of the BIA, and even as "essential to Tribal self-determination." Land held in trust is not subject to state taxes or regulation.
Clint Halftown and his Council have submitted a Land-into-Trust application, which is currently under review by the Department of Interior (DOI) and set to conclude in coming months. While the Land-into-Trust process has been beneficial for some nations, many Indigenous people, including traditional Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ citizens, Clan Mothers, and Sachems, instead view this process as one that violates their sovereignty and self-determination, by requiring that the Nation transfer title to their land to the U.S. federal government. In the case of the Halftown Council's Land-into-Trust application, DOI approval would also deepen the ongoing violation of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ self-determination by further empowering Halftown's illegitimate Council to act in the name of the Nation. Thus, preventing approval of this application is a critical aim of both the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ Nation and the HalftownMustGo campaign.
"We have been against Land-into-Trust from the beginning. That was [Halftown's] ploy to get his casino. ... That is not who we are. And if he's allowed to continue on this way, there will be nothing left for my children, there will be nothing left for our collective grandchildren. ... We cannot live on money, we cannot live on cigarettes, we cannot live on gas. There are other sustainable futures that we have with the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ Clan Mothers and Chiefs to keep our people here. To help bring our people back. This man only wants to destroy. This man only wants for himself. And if he's allowed to keep doing this, you have just signed on to genocide of Cayuga people." - Leanna Young, Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ Heron Clan Citizen
Clint Halftown is fond of claiming that 60% of Cayuga Nation citizens support him. Let's break down where this claim comes from and why it's both misleading and irrelevant. (This info is also available as a PDF for easy printing.)
First off, Clint Halftown was removed from his position on Cayuga Nation Council by his late Clan Mother, Bernadette Hill. In 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) recognized Halftown's removal as a fact, with the Eastern Regional Director saying, "I would be remiss if I failed to recognize the results of this exercise of ancient traditional authority by the Clan Mothers." (Keel page 3)
The Department of Interior (DOI) later "vacated" that decision, based on a technicality within the Department's procedures. Halftown has refused to accept his removal, in defiance of his Clan Mother, who he once referred to as his "Clan Monster." (MSJ page 14) By continuing to engage with Halftown as a representative of the Nation, the U.S. is actively marginalizing the authority of Clan Mothers.
In order to establish a secure claim to power, Halftown, like a typical dictator, has attempted to re-write the rules. In 2016, his Council conducted a mail survey called a "Statement of Support" (SOS) campaign. Halftown claims the results of this 2016 survey show that 60% of Cayuga Nation citizens supported his Council.
Between 2005 and 2016, the BIA declined to recognize the results of multiple other SOS campaigns by the Halftown Council. These denials were based on the BIA's understanding of Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ governance processes as operating through consensus rather than voting. But the BIA curiously reversed course and decided to recognize the Halftown Council's 2016 SOS campaign.
Worse, not only did the U.S. government affirm the 2016 SOS results, they even helped Halftown design the campaign: "The BIA decided to provide technical support to the effort despite the opposition of fully half the Nation's recognized Council of Chiefs and all of the Nation's Clan Mothers." (MSJ page 32) In response, in 2018, the Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers sued the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI).
The only independent expert to assess and offer testimony on the SOS campaign concluded that it was "plagued by problems of biased language, confounding financial influences, insufficient response categories…" and more, suggesting overall "a deeply flawed method of assessment from which no information may be confidently gathered." (MSJ page 25)
And that's not all: the SOS campaign was designed so that individual citizens' names were associated with their submissions. This means that Halftown—already notorious amongst Nation citizens for acts of workplace intimidation and retaliation—was able to identify those who expressed opposition to his "leadership."
Most importantly, this SOS process is entirely outside the processes of the Great Law of Peace. Even an election considered 'free and fair' by international standards would not live up to the democratic processes of the Cayuga Nation according to the Great Law.
In 2013, the Haudenosaunee Grand Council (which does not recognize the Halftown Council) issued a statement on the historical trend of colonial governments in Canada and the U.S. imposing elected councils. This statement reads, "... the traditional councils are the original governments of the Haudenosaunee communities/nations handling national affairs, while the elected councils are imposed systems… for the administration of colonial policies in each community." (2013 Grand Council Statement)
Even Halftown himself recognized that Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ governance is not based on majority rule -- before it served his interests. In a 1997 letter to the BIA, he wrote, "We are concerned… by your statement that the BIA will continue to accord … recognition to [Chief] Isaac until it is clearly shown that he 'no longer enjoys the support of a majority of the tribal membership'. … Cayuga Chiefs and representatives are… accountable to the Cayuga People. That accountability is enforced according to traditional Cayuga law and the clan system, rather than Anglo concepts of pure majority rule." (MSJ page 12).
What does all this mean? It means that Halftown's claim to have majority support from Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ citizens is both misleading, in that it lacks critical context, and irrelevant, in that Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ governance processes don't involve majority rule. The Great Law of Peace is clear: governance authority belongs to Clan Mothers and the Council of Chiefs, and the U.S. must heed their decisions.
Each of the markers/diacritics used in writing Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ words has a specific and important effect on pronunciation.
Vowels: The letter "i" represents the sound in "see"; "e" is similar to the sound in "say"; "a" is similar to "saw"; and "o" is similar to "so." The vowels "ę" and "ǫ" are nasalized, which means air flows through the nose. This is the same way consonants like "n" are made, so "ę" sounds something like the vowel in "ten" and "ǫ" sounds something like "tone."
Underlined vowels: These vowels are devoiced, which basically means they're silent. This means that Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ is pronounced more like guy-oh-KO-no than guy-oh-go-HO-no. You can almost imagine the underlined vowel isn't there, but everything around it still is: gayog-hó:nǫ⁷.
Accents and colons: An acute accent means that a vowel is pronounced with a higher pitch, and a colon means that the vowel before it is long or slow. In English, pitch and length are both signals of stressed syllables, so put a little emphasis on syllables where you see these markers.
The glottal stop: Glottal stops are a kind of sound that are only marginally present in English, but very common in Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷. You might see them marked variously with ⁷, ˀ, ˺, or with an apostrophe. It's the same as the sound in the middle of "uh-oh" or "kitten" (unless you pronounce "kitten" with a full "t" sound or with the same sound as in the middle of "ladder").
Explore the site! We've collected a lot of information and documents and we try to regularly expand and update things. But if you're looking for further reading, here are some useful external resources:
The Haudenosaunee Confederacy's official website is a great place to learn about the Confederacy's government, culture and history, land rights, news and events, and more.
The Great Law of Peace is essentially the constitution of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
The Two Row Wampum is a treaty initially established between the Haudenosaunee and Dutch settlers in 1613, the principles of which were later extended to the fledgling United States. It commits to non-interference in one another's governance affairs while proceeding in relationships of peace and friendship.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007, establishes the rights of indigenous peoples across the globe.
There are many ways to help! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to join our listserv, or keep an eye on our front page for updates about current actions.
Right now, help of all sorts is urgently needed in response to Halftown's second round of demolitions. Email HalftownMustGo@proton.me for current needs and how to contribute if you can help in any way.