Dryden City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Cayuga Nation Self-Determination

On March 17, 2022, the City Council of Dryden, New York, passed a resolution calling on the federal government to honor the traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga Nation) decision to remove Clint Halftown as a representative of the Office. Indian Affairs (BIA) and Ministry. from within (DOI). The resolution includes a provision requiring a copy to be sent to elected and appointed state and federal officials, including Governor Kathy Hochul, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and President Joe Biden.

“While the city of Dryden is in Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ territory, it was our civic duty to express our solidarity with the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs and Clan Mothers,” said Leonardo Vargas-Mendez, member of the Dryden City Council. “Our passing of the resolution affirmed that we uphold the Great Law of Peace of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and its institutions of self-government.

Dryden is the first municipality in Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ territory to pass this resolution, which was spurred by the #HalftownMustGo campaign. HalftownMustGo organizers drafted the resolution over several months while consulting with academics, lawyers and the Council of Chiefs. Dozens of community organizations in the region officially endorsed the resolution and called on local governments to adopt it. One such organization, Dryden Groton Plus – Human Dignity Coalition, brought the resolution to the attention of the City of Dryden.

The town’s action follows the passage of the Two Row Wampum Campaign Resolution in August 2013. The resolution honored the 400th anniversary of the Two Row Wampum Treaty, an agreement between Haudenosaunee and European settlers committing to non-interference in the governance affairs of each other, while in relations of peace and friendship.

Dryden’s resolution describes how the US federal government is violating the self-determination of the Cayuga Nation, thus also violating the principles of the Two Row Wampum. Such a violation would necessarily contradict the self-description of the BIA as “partnering with the tribes in helping them achieve their goals of self-determination”.

The Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Council of Chiefs has repeatedly stated that Clint Halftown has no authority to use the collective rights or name of the Cayuga Nation. Nevertheless, as Kathy Russell of the Dryden Groton Plus-Human Dignity Coalition points out, Halftown and its government have used the status granted by the recognition of the US government to exercise the power granted to sovereign nations to create a judicial system and engage in a non-native police. Obligate. “He usurped his authority,” she said. She informed the city council ahead of their vote that because the United States treats Halftown as a “federal representative,” it receives funds through contracts and grants.

By continuing to recognize Halftown, the U.S. government is enabling actions that oppress traditional Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ citizens and violate their human rights. The resolution cites Halftown’s February 2020 overnight demolition of a community garden and school “used to learn the language and manners of the longhouse” as just one example.

“The damage is done and we have a chance to help right those wrongs,” Russell said. She hopes Dryden will be the first of many municipalities to take this chance to heart.


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