Cayuga Nation Police Department enforces Court Order from the Nation’s Civil Court prohibiting ‘Pipekeepers, Tobacco & Gas’ store from operating as unauthorized Cayuga Nation business
The Cayuga Nation today announced that the Cayuga Nation Police Department (CNPD) oversaw a safe and successful operation this morning in which the Nation took control of the “Pipekeepers, Tobacco & Gas” convenience store located at 126 E. Bayard Street in Seneca Falls, New York, which the Cayuga Nation recently purchased from the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma on December 28, 2021. Pursuant to a court order from the Cayuga Nation Civil Court, the store’s previous tenants, who leased the property from the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe of Oklahoma, were prohibited from operating a non-official Cayuga Nation business on Cayuga Nation reservation land.
The CNPD carefully and safely gained entry into the property to change locks, secure inventory, and ensure the property was vacant at the time of seizure. No individuals were present in the building at the time of the operation. One CNPD officer was injured while attempting to detain a trespasser who had used a vehicle to attempt to injure police officers on scene. The injured officer was immediately transported to the hospital for treatment. No other injuries were reported.
Out of an abundance of caution, barriers have been placed around the property for security purposes, and CNPD vehicles will be present on site to ensure the ongoing safety of the community through round-the-clock monitoring.
Federal, state and local law enforcement were notified in advance of the operation and were invited to a briefing on the matter at the CNPD’s Justice Center headquarters on December 30, 2021. The CNPD invited agencies to observe the operation including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Seneca Falls Police Department; Seneca County Sheriff; New York State Police; the U.S. Department of the Interior.
“Assuming control of the 126 E. Bayard Street property and store was essential to ensuring we keep the peace in our community,” said Mark Lincoln, Cayuga Nation Police Department Superintendent. “The Cayuga Nation has historically faced a number of unlawful takeovers of property which caused great disruption — both economically and socially — to our community members. Ensuring we obtained and secured the Pipekeepers shop as quickly and as safely as possible was a top CNPD priority. We remain committed to enforcing laws within the Cayuga Nation reservation’s boundaries and to protecting the inherent sovereign rights of the Cayuga Nation people.”
“The Cayuga Nation has suffered significant financial losses due to the illegal operation of Pipekeepers, Tobacco & Gas over the last four months,” said Cayuga Nation leader Clint Halftown. “Only the Cayuga Nation government or entities that seek and receive approval from the government can operate commercial businesses on our reservation, and we will enforce our laws against anyone who violates them.”
The Nation took ownership of the property following a four-month-long dispute with local officials regarding the illegal operations by Dustin “Dusty” Parker — a Cayuga Nation member with no affiliation or authority within the Cayuga Nation government. Recently, while Parker illegally operated Pipekeepers, Tobacco & Gas, he posed as an official leader of the Cayuga Nation and claimed he had the right to operate it, despite local ordinances and Cayuga Nation laws dictating otherwise. Parker also erected a misleading sign calling the business the “Cayuga Nation Bayard Street Store” — though the store had no legitimate affiliation with the Cayuga Nation at the time of Parker’s operation.
The property was obtained on December 28, 2021, by the Cayuga Nation. Upon formally closing the purchase of the property from the Seneca-Cayuga Nation of Oklahoma, the Cayuga Nation asked its Tribal Court to find Parker in contempt of its prior orders, and to direct the closure of the Pipekeepers facility. The Cayuga Nation also requested the seizure of the property and store, in accordance with the Nation’s Business License and Regulation Ordinance. In a letter to the Department of the Interior on December 28, 2021, the Cayuga Nation expressed extreme concern that “funds generated from Parker’s illegal sales will lead to additional unlawful activity by Parker, potential efforts to ‘arm’ the facility, and general instability on the reservation.”
“As we have experienced from the previous re-possession of Cayuga Nation properties, there is a small group of criminals posing as ‘traditionalists’ in an effort to mask their illegal activity,” Halftown said. “These individuals attempt to undermine our ability to self-govern by encouraging violence within our community for their own financial and personal gains. By purchasing the property in question, the Cayuga Nation can use the building for future economic development that benefits all Nation members under lawful and safe operations.”
About the Cayuga Nation
The Cayuga Nation (Nation) is a federally recognized sovereign Indian nation established in 1794 by the Treaty of Canandaigua. The Nation’s sovereign and federally protected 64,015-acre reservation is located in Seneca and Cayuga Counties in the State of New York. The Cayuga Nation Council, led by Clint Halftown, Tim Twoguns, Gary Wheeler, Donald Jimerson and Michael Barringer, serves as the official governing body for the entire Nation. With more than 500 members across the country, the Cayuga Nation and its leadership provide national benefits to Cayuga Nation members, including financial support, cultural enrichment opportunities, food distribution and community events, among other benefits. These activities have allowed Cayuga Nation citizens to return to their homeland with an opportunity for housing and employment, which helps preserve the Cayuga Nation’s culture.