Federal Recognition
Report: Martin bent rules to recognize Conn. tribe

Top Bureau of Indian Affairs official Aurene Martin recognized the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Connecticut knowing the tribe did not meet all mandatory criteria for federal acknowledgment, The Hartford Courant reports.

Staff wrote a January 12 memo to Martin saying there was not enough evidence to show political influence for a 64-year period in the 19th and 20th centuries. The memo also questioned the tribe's membership list.

Martin recognized the tribe by relying on the state's continuous recognition of the tribe, as suggested by the memo. But the memo said this would be a departure from normal practice because previous cases used state recognition as a backdrop, not as a direct substitute.

The memo was contained in a filing of documents in federal court, the paper said. Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal, who is challenging the tribe's status, called it a "smoking gun."

As acting assistant secretary when the decision was made, Martin had authority to recognize the tribe even if staff researchers believe some evidence may be lacking. Former BIA head Kevin Gover, during the Clinton administration, exercised discretion in at least three cases to rule in favor of a tribe when staff recommended otherwise.

Get the Story:
Indian Bureau Bent Rules (The Hartford Courant 3/12)

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

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

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