BIA recognizes Pequot groups as one tribe
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MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2002

The Bureau of Indian Affairs today recognized the Eastern Pequot Tribe as the composite of two Connecticut tribes.

The Eastern Pequot Tribe and the Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Tribe were petitioning as separate groups but have been acknowledged as a single entity.

The decision paves the way for federal funding, health services, education and other benefits. It also allows casino gaming under federal law.

Assistant Secretary Neal McCaleb approved the 198-page final determination, said acting deputy Aurene Martin in an interview. "It was a decision which took us a long time to come to," she said.

Tribal officials of both groups were not immediately available for comment. They were planning a press conference tonight to address the decision.

In the past, Eastern Pequot officials have expressed a willingness to accept the smaller Paucatuck Tribe. The Paucatuck Tribe claims a separate identity.

The recognition of the tribes is vehemently opposed by Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and three towns located near the Eastern Pequot Reservation.

Blumenthal believes the tribes aren't worthy of federal status and argued in comments to the BIA that the tribes don't meet seven mandatory recognition criteria. In a statement, he said McCaleb's "decision seems to defy fairness, law, and fact."

Martin today declined to state whether BIA researchers recommended the Eastern Pequot Tribe be recognized. "We worked with the staff continuously for several months," she said.

"We are very happy with the relationship we have with them," she added. "They are very professional."

BIA staff in 2000 told then-Assistant Secretary Kevin Gover that the tribes did not meet the criteria. They also disagreed with several other recognition decisions, which led McCaleb to reverse course last year.

Relevant Documents:
Press Conference: Eastern Pequot Tribe Statement (6/24) | McCaleb Issues Final Determination to Acknowledge the Historical Eastern Pequot Tribe (BIA 6/24)

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