Opinion | Federal Recognition

Opinion: Federal recognition matters influenced by lobbyists

Writer links opposition to federal recognition for the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Connecticut to lobbyists and groups funded by wealthy, unidentified backers:
Regarding the BIA, most of us will never really know what drives its decisions to recognize or reject state-recognized tribes. This is what the Abramoff affair taught us: if you have enough clout -- financial, political -- your tribe stands a decent chance of getting recognized. Conversely, that same clout can help to prevent tribes from being recognized. When it comes to federal recognition, it all cycles through a variety of well-connected lobbyists, Congress and the White House, going back to the Clinton years. After all, there is a ton of money involved.

Things worth noting going forward:

The more you see Sen. Richard Blumenthal's name in stories involving tribal recognition, the more something might actually be happening at the BIA. He has a direct line to lobbyists who wish to prevent Connecticut tribes from gaining federal recognition.

Beware of anti-casino groups that refuse to divulge who is funding them, like the one we had in Connecticut several years back. In the Abramoff saga, some of these groups seemed to have only the public interest in mind, but in reality were backed by tribes that were already operating a casino.

Get the Story:
Steve Ellwanger: When it comes to opening casinos, follow the money (The Stamford Advocate 3/14)

Federal Register Notice:
Procedures for Establishing That an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe (June 26, 2013)

Relevant Documents:
Dear Tribal Leaders Letter
Present Version - 25 CFR Part 83 Procedures for Establishing that an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe
Red Lined Proposed Version - 25 CFR Part 83 Procedures for Establishing that American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe

Related Stories:
Editorial: Connecticut argues against its own recognized tribes (3/13)
Editorial: Some Indians become inconvenient for Connecticut (3/7)
Editorial: Don't let BIA water down federal recognition process (3/6)
Connecticut governor opposes BIA federal recognition reforms (2/27) Connecticut politicians want BIA to drop recognition reform (8/30)
Connecticut leads opposition to federal recognition reforms (8/26)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition proposal (08/13)

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