In A Rare Moment, Blumenthal Agrees With Chief Velky

Gale Courey Toensing writes in Indian Country Today:

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) rarely, if ever, agrees with Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Chief Richard Velky about anything having to do with federal recognition, but that rare moment has arrived.

Blumenthal, Connecticut’s former attorney general, now says that a third party veto provision he helped insert into the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ proposed revisions of the federal recognition rules is unconstitutional, the Connecticut Mirror reported. Velky said the same thing a year ago.

The provision would give third parties that were involved in litigation against tribes veto power over those tribes’ right to re-petition for federal recognition under the revised rules. A tribe would have to go to the same third party that fought its federal recognition at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Interior Board of Indian Appeals and/or in federal court to get consent to re-petition. In Connecticut, which has fought indigenous sovereignty for almost 400 years, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, Indian leaders say.

“I’ve argued, and so have other parties, that [the third party veto] raises very severe constitutional questions,” said Blumenthal, who has successfully fought federal recognition of Connecticut’s three state recognized tribes – the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN), the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation (EPTN) and the Golden Hill Paugussett Indians (GHP)…

Read more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/03/27/blumenthal-flip-flops-federal-rec-third-party-veto-159772


Blumenthal Admits Veto Provision May Be Unconstitutional

Ana Radelat of The CT Mirror writes: 

…The Connecticut tribes, and many other Indians, hope the BIA eliminates the “third-party veto” provision, which they say is unconstitutional.

The senator agrees with the tribes that the veto provision may not stand up in court. “I’ve argued, and so have other parties, that it raises very severe constitutional questions,” Blumenthal said.

Blumenthal said the final regulations issued by the BIA may not include the controversial language, so he’s pressed the agency to scrap plans to issue any new recognition rules at all.

“We think these rules are illegal and extremely unwise,” Blumenthal said.

Opponents include state and local officials and some business interests. They are concerned federal recognition of additional tribes will result in new casinos, extensive land claims and the end of a revenue-sharing agreement with Connecticut’s two federally recognized tribes, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe, that run big gaming operations in the state. . .

. . . “They want to make a decision that won’t be hammered in court,” Velky said.
The chief also said BIA officials told him the final regulations would be made official in April or May.

Velky said public pressure, and pressure from Indian Country, persuaded Washburn to allow tribes like the Schaghticoke to have another chance at federal recognition.

“I think the tribe is hopeful,” Velky said. “We’d like to get this behind us.” . . .

Read more: http://ctmirror.org/2015/03/23/blumenthal-effort-to-block-recognition-of-ct-tribes-faces-challenges/


Ray Hackett Notes Leaders Flip-Flopping on Casino Issue

Ray Hackett of the Norwich Bulletin writes:

. . . The Las Vegas Night statute was critical because it was the basis — some say loophole — that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1983 used in ruling the Mashantucket Pequots were “entitled” to open a casino in Connecticut.

Fearing that the Eastern Pequots — and other “state-recognized” tribes applying for federal recognition — might cause an explosion of casinos across the state, the Legislature quickly repealed the Las Vegas Night statute.

Ta-Dah: casino gambling was officially outlawed in Connecticut — with two exceptions, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Fast forward to last year. In a February 2014 trip to Washington, D.C., Gov. Dannel P. Malloy hand delivers letters to President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and the secretary of the interior, noting Connecticut’s strong opposition to new Bureau of Indian Affairs regulations making it easier for tribes to win federal recognition.

In addition to land claims, the fear was that the Eastern Pequots, Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull and the Schaghticoke of Kent would seek to build casinos. Also writing letters in opposition are Attorney General George Jepsen, now Sen. Blumenthal and various first selectmen. . .

Read more here: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20150315/OPINION/150319761/2011/OPINION/?Start=1