Statement by Marcia Jones Flowers
Chairwoman Eastern Pequot Tribe
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MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2002

The following is a statement made by Marcia Jones Flowers, the chairwoman of the Eastern Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, at a press conference today to discuss the tribe's federal recognition.

"Twenty-five years ago, we began the process of seeking federal recognition, of asking for acknowledgment of what we have known all along: that we are the social and political descendants of the historic Pequot tribe.

"Over the years we have been struggling toward our goal, we've lost so many of those who began the process for us, who worked so hard for our people and waited so long for this result. We know they're rejoicing with us today. While we've endured a great deal, our creator has sustained us with the joy that comes from new marriages and new births, along with the constant knowledge of who we are and where we come from.

"Today's decision means different things ot each of us: to our elders who have waited so long for this day, to the young people who have heard the elders' stories of the old ways, to the tribal councils past and present who have struggled to care for the people, and to those who have passed but who we know are rejoicing with us, and to our petition team wo worked so hard to gather the evidence. But to all of us, the decision means a new day and a new beginning, as well as a reason to be thankful and rejoice.

"We have many challenges ahead of us, but they are challenges we will all face together as a sovereign nation. Today's decision will give us our first access to the federal programs we need to help our people, to preserve our culture and to pass on our values and traditions to our children. These are and always have been our goals.

"We are profoundly grateful to Secretary Gale Norton, Assistant Secretary [Neal] McCaleb, [Bureau of Acknowledgment and Research] Director Mr. Lee Fleming, [BAR Researchers] Drs. Roth and DeMarce and the other fine members of the BIA staff who worked so many long hours to make sure that our petition received a fair and honest review. We would also like to express our thanks to the many tribal leaders and Indian people from across this country, especially the Mashantucket Pequots, the Narragansetts, and the Mohegans, who have supported us in our hours of need and who have given their hands in friendship, asking nothing in return.

"Today we being a new journey, one which gives us the opportunity to work closely with our many neighbors in a cooperative effort to address our mutual problems. We welcome these new challenges and look forward to open and honest discussions about the issues we all face. While our legal status is about to change, our goals and our needs are not. We know we have much to do, but today we will stop and give thanks to the Great Spirit who has sustained us in this long journey and who will continue to guide our way into the future.

"Thank you."