Jeff Benedict: BIA out of control on tribal recognition
Monday, February 9, 2004

"Out of control! There's no better description for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and its decision last week to reverse itself and grant federal recognition to the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

"This decision is based on a determination that your tribe satisfies all seven criteria for acknowledgment," Lee Flemming, chief of the BIA's Office of Federal Acknowledgment, wrote to Schaghticoke leader Richard Velky. Uh-huh. A year ago, the BIA determined the opposite.

Besides mocking its own regulations, the BIA has gone out of its way - and outside the law - to create another sovereign nation inside our state. This decision has activated a 2,000-acre land claim in Kent and resurrected fears that a third casino will land in Danbury, Bridgeport or Waterbury. Regardless of its merits, the land claim is a threat and an expense to many innocent landowners. The tribe's lawyers hope to use this as leverage to force Connecticut to give the tribe and its financial backers the right to a casino. We must not give in to that tactic."

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