indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
BIA changes mind and recognizes Conn. tribe
Friday, January 30, 2004

Members of a small tribe in Connecticut celebrated on Thursday after learning that their long-running quest for federal recognition has ended in success.

Applause, cheers and tears greeted Richard Velky, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, as he made the announcement. "Today is our day," he said at the tribe's headquarters in Derby. "Today is the end of a journey for over 25 years."

Only a short while earlier, tribal leaders were informed of the Bureau of Indian Affairs' decision. In what is known as a final determination, principal deputy assistant secretary Aurene Martin, a Bush administration appointee, said the tribe satisfied all seven criteria for federal status.

"The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has demonstrated continuous existence as an Indian tribe," the BIA said in a statement.

Martin's decision is significant because it marks only the third time that the BIA has changed its mind about a tribe. All three cases involved tribes in New England.

In December 2002, former assistant secretary Neal McCaleb issued a proposed finding against federal recognition for the Schaghticokes. The tribe responded by submitting new evidence to prove continuous existence as a distinct community and to show continuous political authority over tribal members, the two criteria McCaleb said were lacking.

According to the Federal Register notice that Martin signed yesterday, the new information helped patched up some of the holes in the record. In the 13-page document, Martin made note of "significantly greater" evidence to back up the tribe.

The state's recognition of the tribe also played a role. The tribe's reservation, which now stands at 300 acres, was established in 1736.

"There has been a continuous, active relationship from colonial times to the present between the state and the Schaghticoke in which the state treated them as distinct political community," Martin wrote. "The historical continuity of the group has been demonstrated."

The BIA's explanation, however, did little to convince officials in Connecticut, who are vowing to fight the decision. Attorney general Richard Blumenthal called Martin's decision "outrageously wrong."

"The BIA got it right the first time in its preliminary decision," he said yesterday. "What changed their minds is unfathomable and unforgivable."

Blumenthal, who is already challenging the federal status of another tribe, said he would seek a reconsideration through the Department of Interior's Board of Indian Appeals. He did not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit.

Litigation is what prompted the BIA to act on the tribe's petition in the first place. The decision came out of a court-approved agreement involving three different court challenges. Now that the tribe's legitimacy has been established, the tribe can move forward with its land claims.

Another issue looming is a casino, but Velky declined to talk in detail about the tribe's plans. "Let us relish in this moment of federal recognition before we take it any step further," he said. "I"m sure in the very short coming days, I'll be glad to address any questions dealing with economic development."

The tribe, which has about 300 members, is the fourth in Connecticut to gain federal recognition. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation was recognized by an act of Congress in 1983 while the Mohegan Tribe was recognized by the BIA in 1994. Most recently, the BIA recognized the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation in June 2002.

All the decisions were marked by controversy. Although little noticed at the time, the Mashantucket Tribe's act has been questioned in recent years. The Mohegan Tribe was initially denied status but the BIA changed its mind after receiving more information. And the Eastern Pequots were caught in a debate over the alleged influence of Indian gaming money on the Clinton administration.

A ruling is also pending on the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe, whose status has been in limbo pending reconsideration of a negative decision first issued during the Clinton administration.

All four tribes have been recognized by the state since colonial times. Appalled that the BIA has relied on this status, lawmakers tried to revoke the status of the Schaghticokes and the Paugussetts. Fearful of more casinos in the state, they also repealed a law that paved the way for the Mashantucket and Mohegan casinos, which are the largest in the world.

The BIA's decision will become final 90 days after publication in the Federal Register. But administrative and legal appeals could hold up the tribe for years.

Relevant Documents:
BIA Federal Register Notice | BIA Statement | Richard Blumenthal Statement | Rep. Shays Statement

Relevant Links:
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation - http://www.schaghticoke.com

Related Stories:
Recognition decision expected for Schaghticoke Tribe (1/26)
BIA asked to reconsider tribe's membership roll (12/05)
Conn. AG wants to break court agreement with BIA (11/12)
Tribe seeking recognition purges membership rolls (10/13)
State recognized tribe allowed to sue in Conn. (07/22)
Conn. court upholds jurisdiction over tribe (05/13)
Schaghticoke chief disputes state jurisdiction (01/17)
McCaleb 'throwing away a history of people' (12/06)
Schaghticoke Tribe denied recognition (12/5)
Lawmakers attempt to thwart recognition (12/5)
Conn. tribe awaits recognition ruling (12/4)
Recognition decision expected this week (12/2)
McCaleb plans to issue recognition ruling (11/26)
McCaleb ruling holds promise for state tribes (06/25)
McCaleb makes recognition history (6/25)
BIA project consumes recognition resources (06/12)
BIA recognition staff fails pressure test (05/31)
State challenges Schaghticoke Tribe (04/19)
Tribe's recognition delayed (02/20)
Conn. tribe waiting on recognition (01/23)

Copyright � 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Tribes mount another fight after Trump approves another pipeline (3/24)
Native Sun News Today: Navajo elders continue long fight on land (3/24)
Editorial: Just another day of trying to keep up with the Trumps (3/24)
Elizabeth LaPensée: Video games encourage indigenous culture (3/24)
Mary Annette Pember: Native women work with youth offenders (3/24)
Tiffany Midge: Trump continues to conjure hero Andrew Jackson (3/24)
John Kane: Seneca Nation money train coming to end in New York (3/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes secure approval of school mascot agreement (3/24)
Editorial: Federal recognition for tribes in Virginia is long overdue (3/24)
Seneca Nation ends casino payments after sending $1.4B to state (3/24)
Appeals court hears slew of Indian cases amid focus on nominee (3/23)
Internal tribal disputes continue to trip up federal court system (3/23)
Mark Trahant: Indian health care gains ignored in political debate (3/23)
Native Sun News Today: Young fighters maintain Lakota tradition (3/23)
Ivan Star Comes Out: America loses its self-respect and humanity (3/23)
Rosalyn LaPier: Why water remains sacred to indigenous peoples (3/23)
Winona LaDuke: North Dakota spreads filth about water protectors (3/23)
Harold Monteau: Tribal governments are abusing their own people (3/23)
Alex Jacobs: Donald Trump in middle of the 'deep state civil war' (3/23)
Secretary Zinke announces 'doggy days' for Interior Department (3/23)
Keystone XL Pipeline route crosses Ponca Tribe's forced removal (3/23)
Indian lawmaker resigns after being charged for child prostitution (3/23)
Pinoleville Pomo Nation buys site of long-delayed casino project (3/23)
High court pick acknowledges poor treatment of 'sovereign' tribes (3/22)
Dakota Access submits another status update entirely under seal (3/22)
Court allows claim for alleged underpayment in Cobell settlement (3/22)
South Dakota tribes continue to extend Class III gaming compacts (3/22)
Cowlitz Tribe secures approval to offer liquor as casino debut nears (3/22)
Native Sun News Today: Community project continues at Pine Ridge (3/22)
Cronkite News: Copper mine on sacred site complains about delays (3/22)
Mary Annette Pember: Awareness for missing and murdered sisters (3/22)
Stacy Pratt: Visiting the gravesite of Andrew Jackson in Tennessee (3/22)
Murder charge filed for fatal shooting of Navajo Nation police officer (3/22)
Muckleshoot Tribe still seeking answers for fatal shooting by officer (3/22)
Hopland Band submits claim for county raid of marijuana operation (3/22)
Chukchansi Tribe sued for $21M by gaming development company (3/22)
Seminole Tribe accused of breaking contract with outlet at casino (3/22)
Indian Child Welfare Act survives attack from conservative groups (3/21)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on diabetes (3/21)
Ponca Tribe hosts 282-mile walk to retrace trail of forced removal (3/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.