Ithaca, NY- On Sunday, Feb 4th, over 400 Haudenosaunee and US citizens celebrated Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) culture, the local traditional community, and the new Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ Legal Defense Fund. Indoors and out, people enjoyed Haudenosaunee food, music, and craftwork, as well as guest speakers and a documentary showing. US solidarity groups collaborated on this vibrant event with Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ and other Haudenosaunee citizens, including from Onondaga Nation.
Donations to the Legal Defense Fund support the attorneys who continue to represent the Council of Chiefs and traditional citizens. These citizens experience ongoing persecution by Clint Halftown, who most recently made news by blockading the Finger Lakes drive-in. The legal aid raised will achieve one goal: undo the US Bureau of Indian Affairs' recognition of Halftown- chosen by the BIA with no input from Council of Chiefs or Clan Mothers- as "Cayuga Nation leader".
On Sunday, Sachem Sam George, a condoled Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ chief, shared about the Two-Row Wampum Treaty and his hopes for the future to hundreds from near and far, saying, "We will go down the River of Life side by side with no interference."
As many people know, the traditional community experiences regular and traumatizing interferences to their way of life. Only 2 days after a hopeful Sunday, Halftown's council served yet another eviction notice from rigged Cayuga Nation tribal court against a 20-year-old traditional citizen. Legal recourse can end these ongoing threats.
"The local solidarity shows that people understand and respect Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ sovereignty. This right of self-determination is specified in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," says Joe Heath, legal counsel for the Council of Chiefs. "With the help of all those working for justice, the traditional community can live peacefully: no more physical attacks, detentions, evictions, homes and businesses surveilled and destroyed, ceremonial items confiscated, or attempts to garnish wages."
Lily Hollister, an organizer for the fundraiser gathering, noted, "...people who carry the original teachings of the Peacemaker are political refugees who are attacked and exiled in their own homelands."
Dylan Seneca, a Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ citizen and the traditional community's language teacher, works to move forward using his People's "teachings and the encouragement of a good mind, all while still fighting for our rights and voices to be heard".
For decades, the traditional community has continued their rematriation journey in the face of obstacles and attacks. Through all of this, friends, neighbors, and relatives have joined together to organize; fundraise for community supplies, mutual aid, to save the SHARE Farm etc.; and witnessed the struggle for sovereignty recognition. Nyaweh gowah (big thank you) to all of the friends who come together to support the Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ (Cayuga) Nation.