Tanis Parenteau, a Native actress from Canada, holds a feathered cap in her portrayal of "Jane Halftown" of the "Cayuga Iroquois" in an episode of the Showtime series "Billions" that aired on May 5, 2019. The actor Paul Giamatti, seen in the background, portrays "Chuck Rhoades," the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the show.

Cayuga Nation sues cable network over portrayal in 'Billions' show

The Cayuga Nation and its representative to the federal government are suing the Showtime cable network and the producers of the "Billions" show over the tribe's portrayal in a recent episode.

The May 5 episode titled "Fight Night" was completely fictional but it was hard to tell. The show is set in the state of New York, where the tribe is based. The tribe in the show is called the "Cayuga Iroquois" and its leader is named "Jane Halftown." In real life, Clint Halftown is the tribe's federal representative.

The storyline includes the fictional Halftown appearing to engage in illegal behavior in connection with some sort of casino deal. The tribe's lawsuit, which was filed in New York court on Tuesday, calls the episode a "deliberate and intentional resort to an offensive stereotype of Native Americans as irresponsible, corruptible, and even criminal, thereby exposing the Cayuga Nation and Mr. Halftown to public contempt, aversion, and disgrace.”

"Defendants did not obtain plaintiffs' permission to use the Cayuga Nation's or Clint Halftown's name or likeness in their television show, nor did they even communicate any intention to do so in advance of producing or airing the episode," the complaint, a copy of which was posted by The Auburn Citizen, reads. "Moreover, defendants could have easily settled upon fictitious names for the characters in this show but, instead, chose to use plaintiffs' actual names."

The tribe has operated Class II gaming facilities on its homelands in New York but does not offer slot machines, card games or related games. The lawsuit argues that the "Billions" episode could derail a pending land-into-trust application by associating the tribe with "casino-style games."

"Thus, a false statement regarding the nature and type of the Nation's gaming operations may be injurious, and perhaps even fatal, to the application," the complaint reads.

Jane Halftown is portrayed by Tanis Parenteau on the show. According to her website, she is a citizen of the Métis Nation based in Alberta, Canada, and is also of "Cree and Sioux descent."

Read More on the Story
Cayuga Nation suing Showtime over portrayal in 'Billions' episode (The Auburn Citizen August 13, 2019)
‘Billions’ Portrayal of Cayuga Spurs Lawsuit Against Showtime (Bloomberg August 13, 2019)
'Billions' Producers Sued by Cayuga Nation for Defamation (TMZ August 13, 2019)

Join the Conversation