08/4/14

Washburn Hears Frustration, Anger Over Third Party Federal Recognition Veto

By Gale Courey Toensing

. . . Around 100 people attending a public session on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ proposed new rules for federal recognition broke into spontaneous applause when Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Dennis Jenkins spoke against a controversial provision that would allow certain third parties to veto a tribe’s ability to re-petition for federal status.

“This [proposal] is not only morally reprehensible; it is also arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the laws of the United States. … It is the worst kind of modern day genocide,” Jenkins said, as the crowd cheered, whooped and whistled . . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/04/washburn-hears-frustration-anger-over-third-party-fed-rec-veto-156207?page=0%2C0

07/31/14

Tribes Agree BIA System Needs Review

By George Brennan, Cape Cod Online

 . . . Many of the public comments, which can be made through Sept. 30 on the proposed changes, centered on a regulation that would require third parties — state governments or opponents of a tribe being federally recognized — to consent for a tribe to re-petition once it’s been denied acknowledgement.

“We encourage third-party participation so everyone can be heard,” Washburn said.

But tribe leaders bristled at Washburn’s comments about it being the “American way” and that applications were denied “fair and square.”

“I don’t look at this as resubmitting. I look at it as restoring what was rightfully ours,” said Richard Velky, chairman of the Schaghticoke Tribe of Connecticut, to cheers from the audience.

Velky represented one of three Connecticut tribes at the forum that have been denied acknowledgment by the BIA.

Steven Austin, an anthropologist who has worked for the BIA and for tribes, said states like Connecticut wield more power than the tribes. Eastern Pequots and the Schaghticoke both received positive “proposed findings” only to have them overturned by political opposition because state leaders don’t want more Indian casinos in Connecticut, he said.

“If people want to oppose Indian gaming, let them oppose Indian gaming,” Austin said. “Federal acknowledgement is about so much more.”

William Guy, sagamore with the Pokanoket Nation, said the regulations put the burden on the wrong people. “Why do we have to prove to you who we are?”

Read more: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140730/NEWS/407300346

 

 

07/30/14

BIA Agrees To Extend Public Comment Period To September 30th

By Ana Radelat, The Connecticut Mirror

. . . After receiving a flurry of appeals from the Malloy administration, the state’s congressional delegation and mayors and selectmen from a number of Connecticut towns, the BIA has agreed to extend for 60 days a public comment period on the tribal recognition proposal. The old deadline was Aug. 1, the new one is Sept. 30. State leaders need the time to fully press their case to the BIA .

Meanwhile, one tribe has threatened to sue the BIA if it shuts them out of a proposed new regulation that would ease the federal recognition process for many of the nation’s tribes. Others are appealing to the BIA on the basis of history and what they say is justice.

“The BIA failed to consider the long, oppressive history of the state of Connecticut,” wrote Kathleen Sebastian Dring, an elder of the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation of North Stonington, in her comments to the agency.

This was the second time the state has been able to influence the BIA. In May, the agency gave state politicians a big win with a modification to its recognition proposal. The decision infuriated the three Connecticut tribes trying to win recognition — the Eastern Pequot, the Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull, and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent.

The modification would allow those who have previously fought against their recognition to veto any new application for recognition.

“Third-party consent requiring for re-petitioning appears to be in response to concerns Connecticut raised about the discussion draft,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen wrote in a memo about the proposed regulation, which will be finalized after the public comment period ends.

Yet the Malloy administration and others opposed to federal recognition of these tribes are concerned about lawsuits against the BIA, fearing that the “veto provision” is unconstitutional. Jepsen said likely lawsuits over the provision would mean “Connecticut may not be able to rely on the proposed rule to protect its interests.”

“Under the present regulations, a previously denied petitioner may not repetition. That prohibition should remain the same,” Jepsen wrote.

What rattled the Malloy administration were the public comments submitted by Chief Richard Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, who told the BIA that giving third parties the right to object to new petitions for federal acknowledgement “does not, I believe, comport with the due process and equal protection principles of our Constitution.”

“Nor does the U.S. Constitution provide that a state and its political subdivisions may exercise an absolute veto over the exercise of constitutional authority vested exclusively in the United States government,” Velky wrote . . .

Read more: http://www.courant.com/news/politics/hc-ctm-indian-affairs-regulation-20140729,0,6642225,full.story

07/12/14

Schaghticoke Tribal Nation opposes state veto on recognition

Via Indianz.com –

. . . The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation doesn’t think the state of Connecticut should be able to veto its federal recognition petition.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs has proposed a rule that would allow the tribe to resubmit its petition. But all interested parties must agree, something that won’t happen in Connecticut.

“Even though the state had the responsibility of our tribes for centuries, they still are now considered a third party that can stop a tribe from gaining its federal recognition,” Chief Richard Velky told Free Speech Press News. “The same people — the same people — that was there to protect us are now there to hurt us.” . . .

Read more: http://indianz.com/News/2014/014026.asp

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07/3/14

Op-Ed: Six things you did not know about the federal acknowledgment of Indian tribes

By Ruth Garby Torres

. . . #2 – Contrary to what you may hear from public officials in Connecticut, there will still be many obstacles for tribes petitioning under the proposed changes to the acknowledgment process and beyond that process.

Back in 2005 when many of these same public officials were running around with their hair on fire because the Schaghticokes and Eastern Pequots were federally recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the City of Sherrill vs. Oneida Indian Tribe case.

To be clear, I am not a lawyer, legal scholar or expert but anyone can find explanations of this case in plain English. In short, the Oneidas legally purchased private properties in New York, which the City of Sherrill wanted to tax. The court held that, “Given the longstanding, distinctly non-Indian character of central New York and its inhabitants, the regulatory authority over the area constantly exercised by the State and its counties and towns for 200 years, and the Oneidas’ long delay in seeking judicial relief against parties other than the United States, standards of federal Indian law and federal equity practice preclude the Tribe from unilaterally reviving its ancient sovereignty, in whole or in part, over the parcels at issue.” . . .

Read more: http://ctmirror.org/op-ed-six-things-you-did-not-know-about-the-federal-acknowledgment-of-indian-tribes/
 

 

06/29/14

Editorial: Connecticut tribes deserve to be respected in state

From Indianz.com –

Connecticut newspaper says tribes deserve respect even if they are not recognized by the federal government:

The proposed rules were “significantly” changed, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy told a group of business leaders in Danbury Wednesday, and now are expected to effectively block attempts by the Schaghticokes in Kent to win federal recognition.
The revisions, announced by the BIA last Thursday, specify that for any petition to move forward it would need consent by all parties who were involved in earlier unsuccessful attempts.

Given that Connecticut, the state’s attorney general and the town of Kent all vigorously objected to federal recognition for the Schaghticokes — a designation approved in 2004 and then overturned in 2008 — any new effort would go nowhere.

Good news for the state. Not such good news for the Native Americans, who obtained their reservation by the General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut in 1736. The original 2,500-acre reservation, one of the oldest in the country, was pared down in the 1800s and early 1900s to the present day steep, rocky 400 acres in Kent…

Get the Story:
Editorial: Still struggling with the Native American identity (The Danbury News-Times 5/29)

 

 

 

 

06/25/14

Federal Recognition Proposal Praised — Except for CT’s ‘Third Party’ Veto

By Gale Courey Toensing

Indian country has welcomed a set of proposed regulations to reform the federal recognition process, but a provision that would hand third parties veto power to quash a tribe’s request for reconsideration of its petition is raising an outcry that political influence from Connecticut politicians is once again tainting the process.

Interior’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (ASIA) Kevin Washburn announced the publication of the proposed regulations Thursday (April 22). The proposal follows up on draft regulations issued last June that were widely applauded in Indian country as the best thing to happen in decades to a system that’s been described as “broken, long, expensive, burdensome, intrusive, unfair, arbitrary and capricious, less than transparent, unpredictable, and subject to undue political influence and manipulation.” . . .

. . . “By allowing the third party consent to decide the fate of the tribes, the third parties are no longer participants, but they’ve now become the judge,” STN Chief Richard Velky said. “I know ASIA Kevin Washburn is trying to do good for Indian country. I believe the BIA needs to make some changes, but this isn’t change we can believe in. This is political influence – corruption – by the state of Connecticut that went into the White House and got third party veto power over a tribe’s right to ask for reconsideration based on the merits of its petition under the revised regulations.” . . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/05/25/federal-recognition-proposal-praised-except-cts-third-party-veto-155024

 

 

 

06/23/14

Federal Recognition Process: A Culture of Neglect

By Gale Courey Toensing

. . .“The recognition process is a broken system that needs to be reformed,” Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and newly elected president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), said in his opening remarks at the conference. Cladoosby said he told Interior Secretary Sally Jewell recently to fix the broken process. “I said, ‘Take the 19th and 20th century rules and regulations that are paternalistic and fit them for the Natives that we have today,’” he said. The federal acknowledgment process is critically important, Cladoosby said. “Put simply, federal acknowledgment empowers tribes to govern and provide the services and stability their people need in order to preserve their culture. The failure to acknowledge a historical tribe is a failure of the trust responsibility and contributes to the destruction of tribal culture.”

The conference focused on the challenges faced by unrecognized tribes and covered all aspects of federal recognition, including its history, the administrative process, current issues, and proposed new rules and regulations that would reform the process – a discussion presented by the BIA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary Larry Roberts. Several tribal leaders, like Gumbs, and tribal representatives told their tribes’ stories.

The BIA’s own numbers tell its story. Since 1978 when the FAP was established 356 “groups” have sought federal acknowledgment. Of that number, 269 have not submitted documented petitions. Of the 87 that have submitted documented petitions, the agency has resolved 55 and 19 have been resolved by Congress or other means.

“Resolved” doesn’t mean the groups were given federal acknowledgment. Of the 55 resolved, 17 were acknowledged and 34 were denied. The remaining four had their status “clarified” by other means.

Although the number of unrecognized tribes was not pinned down at the conference, the Government Accountability Office identified approximately 400 non-federally recognized tribes in a study it conducted in 2012 on federal funding for unrecognized tribes. The study found that 26 non-federally recognized tribes received funding from 24 federal programs during fiscal years 2007 through 2010. Most of the 26 non-federally recognized tribes were eligible to receive this funding either because of their status as nonprofit organizations or state-recognized tribes.

State recognition didn’t help two Connecticut tribes – the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) or the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nations (EPTN) – hold on to their status as federally recognized tribes. Ruth Torres, an STN citizen, described the campaign of political influence that ultimately resulted in the unprecedented reversal of both tribes’ federal acknowledgment. . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/01/23/federal-recognition-process-culture-neglect-153206

 

 

 

06/22/14

BIA latest recognition proposal is blow to CT tribes

By Ana Radelat 

. . . But, in what Jones said was political pressure from Connecticut officials, the BIA changed a previous draft of the proposal to include language that says, in order to renew their claims, tribes whose bids for federal recognition have been rejected must receive approval from those who previously opposed their recognition.

That would make it very difficult for the Eastern Pequot of North Stonington, the Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull, and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent, to make another application. Their bids for federal recognition were rejected and the entire Connecticut political establishment has, for years, opposed the tribes’ recognition and still does – strongly.

The BIA’s new proposed rules say “an entity that previously petitioned and was denied federal acknowledgment” including a reconstituted tribe or splinter group, can reapply only if “any third parties that participated as a party in an administrative reconsideration or federal court appeal concerning the petitioner has consented in writing to the re-petitioning” and the tribe meets other requirements in the proposed regulations.

“It’s clearly an indication of influence peddling,” Jones said of the restrictive language. . .

Read more: http://ctmirror.org/bia-latest-recognition-proposal-is-blow-to-ct-tribes/

 

06/11/14

CONNECTICUT STATE OFFICIALS OPPOSE LOCAL TRIBE’S BID FOR FEDERAL RECOGNITION

From FSRN – 

. . . The Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC, has issued a draft proposal that would make it significantly easier for tribes to win federal recognition — and all the benefits that go along with that. But Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy wrote to President Barack Obama requesting that three state-recognized tribes that have already lost their bids for federal recognition not be allowed to automatically qualify under the new rules, and the latest draft of the new regulations includes a provision that would give the state veto power over any application that is made by these tribes. The three tribes have cried political interference — again — and an expert on Indian law says they have a good case. Melinda Tuhus reports from New Haven.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has 278 members and a 400-acre reservation in the northwest corner of Connecticut in the upscale town of Kent. Their ancestral lands comprised hundreds of square miles between the Hudson River in New York and the Housatonic River in Connecticut, featuring dense forests, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife.

Chief Richard Velky says the tribe began its quest for federal recognition in 1981 and has hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation to show for its initially successful application. He says designation would give the Schaghticokes more autonomy than they currently have, along with other benefits like “housing for our elders, health care for our tribal members, educational programs.” Velky adds that a casino could also be an option, but that wasn’t the motivation for pursuing recognition. . .

Read more: http://fsrn.org/2014/06/connecticut-state-officials-oppose-local-tribes-bid-for-federal-recognition/