On June 2 the Indian Court of Appeals handed down their decision upholding the original decision declaring the plaintiffs to be the proper office holders of the Seneca-Cayuga Business Committee.

MIAMI – The Court of Indian Appeals for the Eastern Oklahoma Region handed down a decision concerning parties to a dispute over the conduct of the June 4, 2016 annual meeting of the Seneca -Cayuga General Council.

The plaintiffs in the appeal; William L. Fisher, Jerry Crow, Sarah S. Channing, Sallie White, Lisa Spano, Calvin Cassidy and Geneva Fletcher requested the Court of Indian Offenses find resolution to a controversy to whether or not they are the proper office holders of the Seneca-Cayuga Business Committee for the tribe after a bench trial was conducted declaring them the proper office holders.

The defendants in the case; Paul Barton, Scott B. Goode, Hoyit Bacon, Cynthia Donohue, Diana Baker, Tonya Blackfox and TeNona Kuhn appealed the trial court's order along with other portions of the court's ruling.

On June 2 the Indian Court of Appeals handed down their decision upholding the original decision declaring the plaintiffs to be the proper office holders of the Seneca-Cayuga Business Committee.

At the June 4, 2016 Seneca -Cayuga General Council meeting points of orders were raised, and the meeting was abruptly adjourned.

According to the court's filing, “Points of order were then raised by some members in a manner that was considered by the Chief (William Fisher) to be hostile, disruptive and potentially posing a safety risk.”

The Chief adjourned the meeting without motion or approval, and some of the Nation's officers left while other stayed and elected a chairman pro tem to preside.

Subsequently, the pro tem chairman conducted a meeting where a new agenda was adopted, and actions taken, including purported disenrollment of the Nation's officers and council persons and new officers and council persons were elected.

On June 6, 2016 the plaintiffs filed their complaint for a declaratory judgement, preliminary restraining order, preliminary injunction and permanent injunction on the defendants' claim to holding the offices. The defendants filed that same day for temporary and permanent injunction and restraining orders asking that Fisher be restrained from blocking Barton, the pro tem chairman, from access to all tribal enterprises and control of financial accounts.

On June 21, 2016 trial pleadings were conducted and the court granted the request of individual members of the Nations' Election Committee to intervene as parties. At this time the defendants withdrew the allegations for disenrollment. At the conclusion of that trial, the court announced its decision including all officers of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation holding offices at the time on June 4, 2016 when the General Council convened are reinstated.

The court also found any disenrollment of members and subsequent elections of officers invalid.

On July 11, 2016 the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal and on July 14, 2016 the defendants filed their motion for stay pending appeal.

In summary in the Court of Indian Appeals filing of their June 2, 2017 decision affirms the plaintiffs to be the proper office holders on the Seneca-Cayuga Business Committee and any subsequent actions of those after the 2016 Seneca-Cayuga General Council meeting null and void.

The order is entered by Appellate Magistrate Albert Ghezzi, with concurrence by Appellate Magistrates Lisa B. Otipoboy Herbert, and O. Ronald McGee.

The Seneca-Cayuga Nation is a federally recognized tribe with headquarters in Grove.

Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at mstotts@miaminewsrecord.com or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.