9/17/2014 10:38:21 PM
By Fred von Wiegen
Tempers flared, Wednesday, between the two factions vying for control of the Cayuga Indian Nation as State and County law enforcement responded in the morning and again in the afternoon to quell tensions and keep a dispute from boiling over into a full scale brawl.
After calming things down in the mid-morning confrontation outside Lakeside Trading in Union Springs, an even larger and somewhat rowdier crowd showed up Wednesday afternoon and fighting broke out involving about 40 individuals, prompting the State Police and the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office to combine forces to curb the violence.
No serious injuries resulted, but one person was hurt in the pushing and shoving that kept law enforcement on the scene for over four hours. An arrest on a charge of harassment was filed against one of the rioters, who was issued an appearance ticket. State Police decided to close a portion of Route 90, fronting Lakeside Trading, to insure the public's safety.
The road was reopened around 6:30 p.m. after the crowds had thinned out.
Trooper Mark O'Donnell, the Public Information Officer for Troop "E" out of Canandaigua, gave us an official response to the hostilities:
O'Donnell said at issue is a dispute regarding the sale of tobacco products at Lakeside Trading:
Tobacco is just one of the sparks that have caused tempers to flare between the two factions: One of which is led by ousted Nation leader, Cliff Halftown and the other by the Nation's Unity Council. Halftown's faction runs Lakeside Trading in Union Springs while the Seneca Falls store is run by the Unity Council. The two factions have been at odds with each other for years even since Halftown lost support to lead the tribe.
Skirmishes between the opposing factions have centered around the Nation's retail enterprises and the sale and manufacture of cigarettes, a lucrative franchise that inflames hostilities and has led to a series of court filings. The U.S. government is reluctant to rule on which faction should control its internal affairs fearing that it would pierce the veil of sovereignty.