The new federally recognized leadership of the Cayuga Nation has created an office of public safety, though an opposing faction believes the move is not valid. 

According to a Cayuga Nation news release, federal representative Clint Halftown and his nation council appointed Arthur Pierce as the new public safety office’s first commissioner. It was not clear the exact vision of the new office, but Halftown said Pierce is a former captain with the state police and former superintendent of the Oneida Indian Nation Police Department.

Pierce will recruit and train public safety personnel with “the goal of maintaining the peace on Nation lands,” Halftown added. 

“As Art successfully accomplished for the Oneida Nation, in addition to recruiting and training experienced and qualified personnel, one of Art’s first objectives will be to immediately reach out to local, state and federal law enforcement to establish a relationship with these agencies,” Halftown said in the release. “We fully expect that Art’s credentials will precede and enable him to establish a rapport with these law enforcement offices in our area.”

Halftown and his council were recognized as nation leaders in July by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior. An opposing group made up of Cayuga Nation members is challenging the decision in federal court in Washington D.C.

Sachem Sam George, one of the nation’s chiefs opposing Halftown, said the federal government’s decision is about monies issued to the nation. Halftown still needs permission from the people to implement something like this, he said.

George’s attorney, Joseph Heath, issued a statement to The Citizen Wednesday saying the move was more apt to create division and resentment among the nation rather than bring about stability. 

“This is being done in the typical, autocratic style of Mr. Halftown — he has not consulted with or involved the Nation’s citizens, or the condoled Chiefs or Clan Mothers,” Heath wrote.

Pierce served 20 years with the state police and retired in 1993, according to a release. Soon after he was hired as the first public safety commissioner for the Oneida Nation. There, he created a federally recognized police department and served as its superintendent.

The Cayuga Nation council did not immediately respond to The Citizen’s inquiry seeking additional information about Wednesday’s announcement.

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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