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...

Latest Headlines:

President Trump doubles down with defense of 'beautiful' Confederate symbols
Department of Justice invites more tribes to gain acccess to criminal databases
News21: Tribes fight for clean water and more funds from federal government
Tad Lemieux: Inuit community wins landmark court decision on consultation
Charles Kader: Another film trafficks in marginalized death in Indian Country
Peter d'Errico: Asserting sovereignty under the watchful eyes of domination
Secretary Zinke condemns White supremacists but vows 'support' for Trump
Muscogee Nation raids allotment and makes arrest in dispute over casino bid
Mississippi Choctaw citizens win court decision to put new casino to a vote
Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation questions legality of new casino in Connecticut
Nez Perce Tribe shares $409,000 in gaming revenues for education programs
WNV: Puyallup Tribe enters battle against natural gas terminal in Washington
Mark Trahant: Learning from history to see why the Trump presidency is over
Harold Monteau: Donald Trump needs White supremacists to remain in office
Trump defends groups 'innocently' protesting removal of Confederate statue
New York Times turns to Native Americans for Conversation on Race project
Crow Tribe votes on potential changes to constitution despite court decision
Grand Traverse Band wasn't consulted about visit by Columbus replica ships
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate celebrates release of bald eagle that had been shot
Klamath Tribes break ground on hotel as part of long-term casino expansion
Wilton Rancheria continues to see litigation over casino project in California
Energy firm seeks to keep illegal pipeline in place over objections of landowners
North Dakota secures $10 million in federal funds to pay for #NoDAPL response
Arne Vainio: Tough patient turns out to be a warrior with a promise to his brother
Mary Annette Pember: True Sioux Hope Foundation brings donors to Pine Ridge
Steve Russell: Poverty in Indian Country -- and in America -- is really about race
Dakota Access Pipeline dragging out dispute over disturbance of tribal artifacts
Trump offers late rebuke to 'White supremacists' as industry leaders quit council
Seneca Nation citizen maintains 5-year protest against NFL team's racist legacy
Oneida Nation starts construction of third casino as outlet mall remains on hold
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe still confident as Trump team reviews casino plan
Tribes report mixed results in slot machine revenues at casinos in Connecticut
Trump administration abandons tribes in battle over boundaries of reservation
Yurok Tribe forced to rely on outside salmon again as yearly festival approaches
Zenobia Jeffries: Media must be honest about planned race riot in Charlottesville
DVIDS: Military partnership brings health care to Round Valley Indian Reservation
Sandra LaFleur: Let's return to our traditions by restoring power to Native women
Harold Monteau: Democrats need to get their act together in new election season
Northern Arapaho Tribe reclaims remains of students who died at Carlisle school
Elouise Cobell's family brings Presidential Medal of Freedom to Blackfeet Nation
Department of Justice opens civil rights investigation into Charlottesville death
Muscogee Nation issues citizenship to former police officer accused of murder
Tim Giago: Broken treaties remain among America's deepest and darkest secrets
Oglala Sioux Tribe secures restitution for funds stolen by former district official
Appeals court schedules hearing in long-running Mechoopda Tribe gaming case
Pit boss and patron plead in blackjack scam at Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate casino
Doug Steiger: Reform the Indian Health Service by looking at tribal success stories
Young indigenous activist fights Trump administration in climate change lawsuit
Kialegee Tribal Town warned not to engage in gaming on allotment in Oklahoma
Mark Trahant: Prepare for a big mess when Congress returns to work in September
Cronkite News: Most Native families aren't speaking their own languages at home
Agua Caliente Band faces opposition from states as high court weighs water case
Crow Tribe mourns shooting victims as details remain scarce about triple homicide
Non-Indian man sentenced to life in prison for murder, assault on Crow Reservation
Aquinnah Wampanoag citizen aims to make history with Massachusetts campaign
Cherokee Nation ready to move forward with opioid lawsuit in tribal court system
Wiyot Tribe questions attempt to buy ancestral island that was site of massacre
Southern Ute Tribe offers $1 million matching grant for KSUT public radio station
Jim Cooper: Wilton Rancheria casino brings benefits to everyone in our community
Sara Trechter: County wastes more than $600,000 battling Mechoopda Tribe casino
Anticipation builds as Indian Country calls for shutdown of Dakota Access Pipeline
Brian Lightfoot Brown: Welcome to the oldest recorded powwow in North America
Cronkite News: Backlogs at immigration courts reach a record high in Trump era
Mary Annette Pember: School offers safe place for girls on Pine Ridge Reservation
Alex Jacobs: Beware the new 'tribalism' in American politics with Donald Trump
Muscogee Nation welcomes decision affirming the boundaries of its reservation
Crow Tribe weighs stronger response after site of triple homicide burns to ground
White Earth Nation looks to diversify economy with first hemp crop on reservation
Nooksack Tribe loses federal health care funds as disenrollment drama drags on
>>> 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.