A former Seneca-Cayuga chief attempted to force his way into a position of leadership Thursday, according to a press release issued later that day at the tribe's Miami headquarters.
Less than a day before U.S. Attorneys planned to tour tribal facilities, former chief Paul Spicer allegedly walked into the tribe's Grand Lake Casino, announced that he is still chief, presented a court order to that effect, had the casino's general manager escorted out of the facility and declared that he would be taking over as the casino's general manager.
The former chief also allegedly made a similar attempt at the tribe's tobacco facility.
The ordeal lasted about three hours and the former chief's effort was not successful as casino employees, the tribe's gaming commissioner and tobacco security officers held their ground, according to Birdsong.
Newly elected tribal officials said Spicer's actions are a “last ditch effort” to regain the control that he had prior to announcing his resignation earlier this year.
The effort is flawed at its core, according to Seneca-Cayuga Second Chief Katie Birdsong who said that making a management change at the casino would require a vote of the business committee and a proper resolution. Neither of which can be presented.
Spicer, whose name was not on the June 7 election ballot for a replacement to fill his unexpired term, contends that he did not officially resign his position and that he only intended to do so upon the swearing in of his successor.
Birdsong said Spicer's attempt was short-lived and that the tribe is back to “business as usual.”
The three-hour ordeal left some tribal members fearful, according to Birdsong.
Spicer announced in March that he would resign as chief and then endorsed a candidate in the race. That candidate lost to LeRoy Howard, who has since won the confidence of tribal members at the ballot box as well as from the tribe's general council who appointed him from the floor at the annual meeting to fill Spicer's vacancy.
Upon Howard's success, Spicer withdrew his resignation and has called the election illegal.
New tribal officials are undaunted by Spicer's actions and say they are not threatened by his presentation of a July 9 court order issued by Karl Jones - the judge who presided over a Seneca-Cayuga District Court that was dissolved more than a month ago.
Tribal leaders announced Thursday that the regional director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs declared Jones' court order of Nov. 15, 2007, invalid. The order prohibited the gathering of the tribe's general council and served as a basis for the July 9 order which asserts that Spicer remains as chief and prohibits the newly elected officers from holding themselves out as tribal officials.
Leaders of the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe await a formal acknowledgment from the BIA that the slate of officers elected June 7 will be recognized by agency.
Thomas Hayde, an attorney for Spencer, Fane, Britt and Brown who represents Spicer, offered no comment when contacted Thursday.