Members' requests for financial assistance from the Seneca-Cayuga Tribe will move forward this week, despite an inner-tribal dispute that effectively stymied welfare assistance to tribal members.
Attorneys on both sides of what started out as an election dispute and ballooned into a complicated power struggle agreed Tuesday to establish an interim committee of tribal members to carry on the business of the tribe's Claims Committee - a panel created by the tribe's general council and tasked with disbursing money to tribal members during times of hardship.
Per an Aug. 4 order of the Court of Indian Offenses, the records of the tribe's Claims Committee were placed into the protective custody of the Bureau of Indian Affairs after Chief Paul Spicer issued notice that the responsibilities of the committee were diminished and their funding was reduced by a resolution of the tribe's business committee.
Subsequently, the business committee appointed a welfare committee to carry on the responsibility of the claims committee. The welfare committee then petitioned the court for release of the claims committee's records.
The validity of the welfare committee, however, was challenged and second chief Katie Birdsong made an attempt to protect the documents by means of a protective order and a motion to intervene.
On Tuesday, counselors agreed to a temporary arrangement that will allow both the claims committee and the new welfare committee to have representation on the interim committee.
The new committee will pick up the unfinished business of the claims committee and accept new requests for assistance until such time that disputes over jurisdiction can be settled.
Additionally, according to Spicer, both sides will be provided with a copies of all the Claims Committee's documents - as will a team of forensic auditors hired by the tribe to review the records.