Words from the Canoe:
Statements from the Traditional Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷
On August 3rd, 2022, Cayuga Nation Police (Halftown's non-Native police) began bulldozing buildings of significance to Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ citizens who oppose him, in a sequel to the destruction he wrought in February 2020. The Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers responded with this press release on August 5th.
In April 2021, Halftown issued eviction notices to traditional Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ citizens from their homes in their traditional territory and began harassing them with his illegitimate non-Cayuga police force. In May, the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ Council of Chiefs responded with this letter. This is the letter we're talking about when we say #ReadTheLetter.
In 2013, the Haudenosaunee Grand Council released a statement explaining how band governments, governments imposed on indigenous nations by the US (and Canada), are deeply rooted in colonialism and should not be considered the true or legitimate leadership or representatives of the Haudenosaunee.
This 2011 affidavit affirms the 2005 removal of Halftown from representative role by his late Clanmother, Bernadette Hill.
So for somebody who hasn't heard anything about what's been going on
between you guys and Clint Halftown could you summarize that situation
and how it relates to the march that happened today? OK. How much time you got?
Start wherever you feel comfortable.
Okay I'll give you a Reader's Digest version of what happened.
My uncle, who was chief at the time back in the late 90s, got sick,
and he appointed some people to be representatives of their clan,
Clint happened to be one of them for the Heron Clan, Chuck was another one, and anyway, I
missed that meeting so I wasn't able to get the Bear Clan representative, and I found that out later.
So what happened was that his mother, who was secretary at the time, wrote a little letter saying that
they needed to have a representative for the Nation, and Clint went and took that letter and
asked the other guys, the representatives, to sign it, they all signed it, he was only
supposed to be a contact from what I understand, but then they put in "Federal Representative."
And the last line said "to deal with all governments," and that's not what was signed the
first time. That's what was given to the government, and the government from that point on has recognized
Clint Halftown as a federal rep for the Cayuga Nation and we fought that, we've been fighting it for--
since 2005 anyway. When Chuck and I became chiefs, what we wanted to do was take
that title away because we know that it's bad, and that's not what we're all about.
My uncle was just a point of contact to sign a check so that we could have an office;
there would be all kinds of information for all the rest of our people to come to
and gather information about who they are, what they are, and where we come from, and whatnot--the whole
history. But after he became representative that stopped. Now it was a matter of
fighting what they were trying to tell people what the truth is, and we've been doing
that for a lot of years now, and he continues to tell the lies. He's trying
to say there's no Chiefs and Clanmothers, and that his aunt is the only Clanmother,
which I couldn't believe when I read that, I saw that, anyway. So it's been an internal
dispute for many years, the traditional leadership against what
we call now a domestic terrorist, because of what he did to our community back in February of 2020;
that was caused by the government also,
because Tara Sweeney who was Assistant Secretary of the Interior at the time
wrote a letter that backed up Michael Black who was the Interior before him,
but her wording was that--the wording that got him to do what he did was,
he has "all," in big black letters, the power to do whatever he needs to do.
That caused him to do what he did. That's what he's using; he's using all kinds of lies about
the people themselves you know, and trying to justify himself, but it's not going to happen,
he's already done the damage. Now he's going to have to go pretty soon, the government
asked for some investigation, the Supervisors here asked the same thing,
that was in 2020. Everybody was against him, didn't understand how he could do that to his people.
The chiefs got together and we made a statement, a press release, a week later saying that
we don't do that to our people; we don't treat our people that way. So we declared that his
Cayuga Nation of New York is no longer an entity, and that anything and everything that anybody does
from this point on, if it doesn't have our name on it, it's not true.
And what name is that?
Our name is Chief's Council of the Cayuga Nation. And we have seven signatures on two papers so far,
and we're going to be presenting those to the legislature tonight again to clarify,
to tell the truth again, because he's still telling lies and how he's the voice of
the Nation and he's the only Nation--he's not even a Nation member anymore according to us.
He's committed treason. He's committed a terrorist act against his own people, and he's no longer
inside our circle. That's how we presented it in our press release and
the announcement we just made about a month or so ago. So that's where it stands, since that
point he's still trying to spend all our money as much as he can, because that's what
he's been doing is spending our Nation money on whatever he wants to do or she wants to do,
when I say "she" I mean his mother. So that's where we're at right now. Hopefully the government will
do something other than what they've already done, by taking that title away from him.
I'm still looking for somebody to do something about the funding that he's spent,
the misappropriation of funds, whatever you want to call it, whatever the worst
case can be against him, with their money.
Because he certainly has destroyed a lot of things with it. He's a sick man.
Would it be all right with you if I took my mask off so that people watching the video can see what I'm saying?
So I'm just gonna ask a couple more specific questions based on some of the
stuff that came up in there. So, and for these, more just like, I don't know, specific
questions with specific answers. So how did Clint Halftown come to power and when did that happen?
Two-thousand...late 2003, early 2004,
when that letter was sent in to the BIA recognizing him as a federal rep. That's when it started. And who signed that letter?
Sharon Halftown, his mother, Secretary of the Nation, supposedly.
And in the 20 or so years that Clint Halftown has been in his position has the United States
government given you the opportunity to have democratic say over a change in leadership?
Once--any time you send a piece of paper in, because what happened was that we had a Grand Council on the
same thing that was going on and Grand Council said, We're not going to let this happen again,
because it happened in Oneida before this. So they said they weren't going to let it happen again so
they wrote a letter, we're going to go down to BIA, explain everything that happened, who's the
people that we contacted with, and that's the way it was going to be. And at the end of that meeting,
there was a line that somebody said, Well where's the paperwork?
So ever since then we've been creating that paper trail.
Anyone can find out how we've been trying to fight him for the last 20 years.
Once, I think it was in 2015, there was a guy named Keel who happened to be at the BIA office and
he decided to recognize us because of what the Clanmothers had said at that time.
And as soon as he said that, he disappeared from the office, and Clint Halftown again,
his appeal won, got back his recognition, from the other, the one that took his place.
In that 20 years how has he used your people's money without your consent?
Well in two-thousand, I think it was early 2006, the five of us got together, the two Herons, two Bears, and
two Turtles--well, not two Herons, but one of the Herons--two
Bears and two Turtles, because that's all we had at the time, signed the paper,
sent it in to the government that he is no longer whatever he basically called himself, and
that lasted about two weeks and then the two Turtle representatives--
how I say it is that they were bought: Clint gave them $150,000
and said, Hey you want to take back your words, you don't want to be--if you come and join me, I'll give you more money.
And that's what they were after, so that's where they went, and then that whole thing was thrown,
again, back to Clint Halftown. You mentioned something that had happened in February of last
year, would you be comfortable going into more detail about what happened then?
Well we were--Friday we all did what we always do, we had our class, we had our food,
nothing seemed to be disturbing except for you know there was a couple of people that didn't
want to be a part of us anymore, and they were raising a little heck, but it was nothing serious.
So we left Friday, thinking you know, everything's going to be OK,
and I get a call at 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning that he's tearing down the buildings.
And I didn't know what the heck that meant until the next day. What did it mean?
He tore all the buildings--he tore our schoolhouse down, the day-care center, the seven, the six cabins that we had back there--
well there was seven, but only six were being used for people--and the store, the gas station,
across the street was a Sugar Shack (a little putt-putt that sold ice cream) and what used to be a
cannery, but we turned it into a place where people can go and eat, like a kitchen.
So he tore all those buildings down, and some of the guys, one of the guys here,
I don't know if he'll say anything, but one of the guys that was watching was on duty for night watch,
and he was waking up with a gun pointed to his head, told to get out of the truck. He was zip-tied.
He was taken over to a van where everybody else was, there were two other guys there
in the same situation. They all woke up to the gun to their head
and zip-tied and put in to watch the destruction of the buildings that were going on.
So within the days after that
according to the town, he hadn't gotten a permit to do that, to do the destruction of the buildings,
so he has, he has other people working for him that
can go get these permits that they want now for cleanup, so they went and
sent her over there to get the permits. From who? From the town. And
that's when they cleared out all the buildings; they just put them in dumpsters. They destroyed
our garden. I think they destroyed our chicken coop, our pigs, we had some pigs back there.
We had planted some trees--I don't know if they're all gone, but
we had planted some peach trees, apple trees. I think the apple trees are gone.
But they wiped out everything, everything's gone except for the main building, that's the white
building over there--we call it the boathouse. We were turning that into a day care when this happened,
so it's still there. And the other two buildings across the street, he doesn't
bother cleaning them up, because he wants them to be there to remind people of what he can do.
What have those demolitions meant for the community?
Well first of all, that's where we all met, right? That was our home, that was our life at the time.
And with no place to go, no job to go to, no--nothing to do for the day or whatever that we did,
we had classes, we all went to classes and took care of that garden, we took care of our cornfield,
pigs, chickens, we did those things up on a daily basis. Oh, with all that gone, where do we go?
So everybody's been, I would say, devastated from what happened.
He really put, he hurt people rather than help them. That's why they were yelling that
thing about, you know, he doesn't care about children. So, since then it's been a struggle
for the community to come together to work together. For a little while after that there
were people helping us to maintain food for everybody and cooking meals for everybody still, so.
But it's been a rough, it's been rough going back to
having to deal with a domestic terrorist, that's what I call him.
How has that manifested since February of last year? I understand that folks have been
camping out, worrying about possible evictions. That started with the evictions back in March, I believe it was.
Of this year? I think it was this year, yeah. And you start with the evictions,
and people said, What the heck is this all about? And I said,
Well he's done this three times, two times, before, and he lost both times. He doesn't have any jurisdiction.
Don't take any of the papers, and if we don't take them, we don't--we don't acknowledge
that court system anyways because that in itself was--that's part of that money that you
were talking about earlier. Yeah. He bought himself a police department; he bought himself a judge, a
prosecutor, and a defender from what I understand, and a jail. Wow! Yeah. So he's been spending a lot
of our money on--oh yeah, and he bought them all new vehicles. So, what's that, $50,000 a piece? At least.
So those are some of the things that we see him spending our money on that we don't get any part of.
There was an interaction today between the marchers and a local police force. Was that
his police force that you just spoke about?
The ones that were on the side of the road with the black and-white cars? No, those are town cops.
The fake police were the ones on the corner down there on the right-hand side protecting their
store down there. With the red letters on their cars? They can't do nothing. They can't do anything.
They're just bodyguards, or store guards, that's how we call them. How many of them are there? Thirteen, last I knew.
And none of them are Indigenous. They're all ex-state troopers, city cops,
sheriffs. And are those the ones who were involved in the demolitions last year, in
the evictions this year? Oh yeah, definitely. They were given orders to clear out everybody, tie up everybody,
make sure nobody was inside the buildings because they were going to be destroyed.
We do have video on them coming in to the store with guns drawn.
I don't know if you've ever seen these shows on TV where the cops come in with their guns
drawn, you know, trying to find somebody and make sure they don't get shot first. And a week after
that one of their lawyers said, Oh no there was no guns involved. And so we showed them the video, and they shut up about that.
So I'm going to change directions of questioning a little bit.
There was a banner that was held at the front of the march today
that said Remember the Children. What does that mean to you in the context of this march?
That's a reminder of all the--of what happened to our ancestors,
how the children were taken away from the families back then.
From what I understand from Carlisle, the guys that took them--take the Indian out and save the
man. And that's what they've been trying to do. But then I saw another video, Unseen Tears,
with a couple of elders on there, talking about when they were there and what happened to them.
And it's a sad, very sad story about the abuse that they had to go through.
And it makes me angry at the nuns now and the preachers and everybody else that
had anything to do with that. They're all trying to say that they were doing it for the
right way to live.
So what they found was, the first 215, it's a reminder that there's a lot more to be found that were taken away, and never made it to anything.
They probably didn't even get to speak their language because they were taken at a young age.
From your perspective, how does what happened with the residential schools connect to what's happened
with Clint Halftown in the last 20 years and the United States government's involvement in that?
Same thing, nothing's changed much. BIA still has to do their assimilation, whatever they can do to
assimilate people. Right now they're using Clint Halftown to do that, and because of Clint Halftown's
damage by the residential schools, he doesn't know any better, and she don't know any better either, so
this is what they believe, they probably believe this is the right way to go. And now they got all
that money, and, from what I understand--I had $500 in my pocket one time, and I felt really powerful.
I could buy many friends that way, you know? Then I said, Oh, so that's what happened to them. They're sick. They've got all that money, and have
control of it, and now they can do whatever they want to do. So they think.
So they try to do the same thing here. We're a Nation that was scattered anyway
from the beginning, I forgot to tell you that part about us. We're the only nation that doesn't have a
a regular reservation, you know, where it's outlined, This is where your reservation is. We don't have
that. The Canandaigua Treaty gives us reservation status and gives us 64,000 acres--
44 on this side and 20 on that side of the northern end of
the lake, but doesn't go all the way to the northern end of the lake.
So it's always been a question of mine of who made those lines. Why did they only give
us that much, and again, who made the lines, but like anything else, it's a matter of assimilation, right?
So we do have reservation status.
Clint Halftown has a reservation. I see.
We laugh at that too, because it's only two houses.
There was a lot of chanting today that Clint Halftown has to go. Oh definitely. What needs to
happen next in order for that to happen? What needs to happen next is that the government has to step up and do their part on
turning this around before something else really happens.
And it's not going to be good. Have they shown any interest in hearing? The Justice Department, from
what I understand today, the Justice Department did not know anything about this.
So that tells me the new Secretary of the Interior doesn't know about it. The new guy who just got
in to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior doesn't know about it. The head of the BIA does
know about it, but can't do anything about it until he gets an OK from the other two.
So that's how I guess it works, but we are making them aware. There's things that happen.
We do have some paperwork that we can send in; we have some videos that we can send in;
we have declarations that we can send in. And yeah, we're looking for him to be gone.
If I can editorialize for a second, I've noticed that you've spoken a lot about--
knowledge about the structure of the federal and state governments of the United States here; has
that same sort of interest and understanding of governmental structure been extended to you
guys? Do they understand how decisions are made and just choose to ignore them, or do they just
not understand how decisions are made? They have knowledge of our way because we've been sending
papers for the last 20 years telling them who we are, and what we are, and why we are,
and how we became chiefs, and how our government works, and all they had to
do was to look into that. But if they do that, then that means that they made a mistake. Right.
Somebody had pointed that out to me, and I just said, Well,
why don't they just correct it? Well it's been 20 years--what do you think's going
to happen to the BIA office? Why should we be there anyway? It needs to go, just like him.
What can people who live nearby and maybe watch or listen to this do from where they are that would
be the most helpful for you? I've been asked that question ever since I've been here, since 2014.
To make people aware there's different groups that happen, you know.
There's Catholic Charities, I guess, from Ithaca, they had signed a letter and had people sign it themselves
to send it in to the government, get a hold of your congressman, get a hold of your legislatures,
get a hold of anybody that has a title, let them know what's going on and how you're not
happy about it, even though they may--it may someday be a better thing to do for everybody.
But like that lady said out there I heard, "I pay my taxes why don't you pay yours?" Well,
see the difference between us and them is that they have to because they don't know any better.
Right? We don't. We know better. If you were to pay those taxes would you see anything
come back to you from that? No, I don't, no. That's not what's going to happen.
We can help them out, we can pay for our electric, we can pay for our water, but
no, we're not going to pay no taxes. We don't pay taxes. That's what all the treaties are
about. We've been trying 20 years of--treaty, telling them about treaties, the Two Row,
the Gaswęnta⁷ and the friendship. All these treaties that were made, all saying the same thing:
as long as the grass is green, the water flows, and the sun shines. They all say the same thing.
And they haven't, and they've ignored every single one of them.
But we keep reminding them of the Two Row, and that's what's been working so far.
Is there anything else that you'd like to let people know about, or any other history
details that you'd like to fill in to help people understand the story?
Well, like I said, I've been around the lake a couple times and now I keep saying this over and over, and--I haven't
seen the map yet--I only saw it once, where our original territory is, from Lake Ontario
on down both sides of the lake, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio was our original territory.
The ones around the lake are starting to acknowledge that part that they're on our territory.
And our lawyer says, "well that's not the Canandaigua Treaty." I say that doesn't matter. It's still our territory.
What have those acknowledgements meant for you? I think it means that some people are paying attention
and want change. They want to be part of the good things that are happening. They want to be part of that
because they're sick and tired of that salt mine down there and some of
these farmers dumping their stuff into the lakes, damaging the water.
I think that's everything I can think of. Is there anything else I should cover? There's one more thing, which is,
it's funny to do it right now, but could you just introduce yourself and your title?
I was born in 1952.
I was given the English name, or sometimes called the slave name, of Sam George.
In 2004, my Clanmother came to me and said, "You're next." That's after my uncle passed away.
And I tried to get out of it, but soon--people say when your Clanmother tells me you're next, you're
next. So from that point on, I got recognized at the Tonawanda Reservation, because that's how the
system works: you get recognized, everybody comes from all different nations to come and greet you,
and then you send it over to the other side, the older brothers,
for getting a Condolence, being put in,
put in place and given a title. My uncle's title is Shoyǫ:we:s. Shoyǫ:we:s means "pulling guts." I found
that story, I heard that story a couple of years later after that, why it means pulling guts. And
they said back when the Peacemaker came up from the south end of the lake
in this canoe that they were in, he saw these fishermen on the side of the lake and he wanted to
know what they were doing. So they rode over there, and what they saw was one guy, the first
guy was taking the fish, hitting him on the head. I think that's the title that he carries. Then
he hands it to me, and I pull out the guts--that's Shoyǫ:we:s. I hand him to the next one and that's--
he puts him on the pole to dry out. That's his title name, too. I asked how to say that
I can't say it right now, because I only know mine for sure, so that's the title I have today.
That title's been here time, time immemorial.
But that's it. If you want to know I just say Hoya:neh Shoyǫ:we:s
when it comes time to introduce myself to anybody else.
All that means is that, from what my teacher says, it's, Here's a good person who pulls guts.
So hang onto yours, I may be pulling yours next!
Thank you. Nya:węh. Da:ne⁷toh.
Hi. My name is Teresa Longboat John. I'm of the Turtle Clan, the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ community.
And I'm just here because I feel there needs to be a face to let everybody know
we're asking you to help and to protect us from the Halftown faction.
And I believe that it's important for us to get out there and show our face, and share a little
bit of our story--not the whole thing, but just a little bit of our story--with you to explain to you
why we're up here, how we got up here, and why we continue the fight.
I came up with my son in 2010,
it was nice. It was amazing to be up here in our homeland.
For me, it was my ma's dream come true,
because she told us to get to our homeland when it was
available to come to us.
So I came with my son. My son came first, and then I came
like a month later. And at the time, I was the eldest.
And we all worked. We all worked,
but to me it was just the idea that I was up here on my own land, my own house,
and it was amazing. It was just amazing. I live on the lake,
I just wanted to give a little bit of history of
how I was brought up in
the whole Cayuga Nation, I should say.
At 16, I started¬†
attending meetings with my mom, because
she said it was very important for me to learn what was going on with my Nation.
So at 16, I started learning
about what was happening and everything, and the fight--the fight then to hear from Clint Halftown
and Tim Twoguns
what was happening.
Hi Buzz! Hello! My son Buzz from work.
But yeah. And
so we've been fighting for a long time, with me being an elder now,
and what is very important to me
is, I don't want my children to fight, and I don't want my grandson to fight.
And that's all they're seeing,
is just all this fighting.
For us it's about the land, the land and our children, because we have that posterity.
Clint Halftown doesn't have any; he doesn't have any lineage to carry on.
And for him it's all about greed, and it's all about the money.
as far as our homes go?
That comes with that settlement.
That settlement that he said all the Cayugas voted on, to let him handle.
Cayuga people--this is how he's handling it. And he bulldozed down a store, a day care,
a schoolhouse that brought the language and the traditional ways back, the gardens that supplied food.
And people were employed, and we were living in peace. We did not go out of our way to harass him.
And then this was all done,
starting at two o'clock in the morning.
And I was away on vacation, and I came back to this--and I live right next door to this!
And that's what I see every day. Every day I see it.
We get drive-bys by his illegal,
fake police force. We get papers by his illegal police force.
We get followed by his illegal police force.
it's got to stop; it's got to stop.
He's got to stop. His mother's got to stop.
It's driving the people all apart. And we
can be, should be, we want to be very strong together, united as one, as it should be.
And it's for the children.
Oh! It's for the children. It's for our generations to come.
So if you can, please share this.
I would appreciate it.
And once again, I would like to thank everybody that's helped us--the campers that have come out.
We have received donations from people, different tribes.
My name is Judy Jimerson. I live
here in Cayuga Lake. I'm a Cayuga, Cayuga Bear. I'm from Six Nations in Canada.
And I came here 7 years ago, when I read it in a newspaper that the Cayuga people needed help. And
I came, I came for just a couple of weeks, to see if I could help, if I could be of any service,
anything. And I did, I held down Union Springs for a little bit, and
then they took over--Clint's goons came and took it over. And I remember that night,
I remember them screaming that the Canadian Cayugas weren't real Cayugas, and that we had
no say, and we weren't supposed to be here. And we were disgusting, and we ran away, and
everything like that. I remember them screaming that, and then I remember them trying to get
into the store and take everything back over. And I think it was Timothy Twoguns screaming
how much, like, Canadian Cayugas weren't real Cayugas, and things like that.
And then the mercs came in, and they started to like swarm us--oops, sorry--they started to
like swarm us, and be like all around us, and I remember getting punched in the face by one of
them, and just like looking at him shocked that a man would punch me, and then I jumped on the ball
of men, and like tried to swim over everybody into the store. That didn't work out very well.
But after I couldn't hold the front of the store, we went to the back of the store, trying to help,
and it just fell. It was chaos from there. And then they got Union Springs back.
So then I came over here to 89 after that, to see if I could help protect this store,
make sure that we could--make sure that the Cayuga people could keep it,
and I ended up meeting my husband and
got married, and I've been here ever since. Kind of married into the fight, and
more and more about this fight every day, how
Clint's cops aren't real; they don't have
no contracts. They don't have any say or jurisdiction, and what--
on this territory, and they're white men trying to boss around Native people. How is
that right? How is Clint hiring Native people--or, non-Native people--to boss Native people around?
it just disgusts me and makes me
very angry and upset and frustrated. And I wish I could do more, and I wish I could--
it's that feeling of hopelessness, of not--feeling like you're not doing enough.
it's overwhelming and it sucks.
I don't know.
I'm at a loss for words now, sorry.
There's so much that's gone on, and so much that's happened, it's just--
it's a lot of emotions, and a lot of--a lot of crap to dig through, and I'm
trying really hard not to sit here and just bawl my eyes out.
But I know one thing that could help us—Cayuga Nation, the Cayuga people,
the Gayogo̱hó:nǫ⁷ people--is if maybe one person could just call
and just say that this isn't right--you know, what Clint is doing.
It isn't right, and it's so wrong.
And it's just evil.
How can you do this to your community members, to your people, to children?
How can you do that? How can you tear down a whole community and just get away with it?
How is that right in any sense?
And I just hope that one person sees this,
and just gives us one call, that might be the one thing that we need.
Thank you. Thanks for listening.