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/


Connecticut Attacks Proposed Fed Rec Revisions, Fears Land Claims, Casinos

 By Christina Rose

. . . Malloy’s list of complaints states, “In Connecticut, reservations have been maintained simply because there are descendants of the groups for which the reservations were first established,” implying the tribal members are merely descendants.

Malloy complained that the new regulations favor the tribes rather than the state and that giving federal recognition to the tribes now would overturn previous court decisions.

Ruth Garby Torres, Schaghticoke, author of a chapter in the book, Recognition, Sovereignty Struggles, and Indigenous Rights in the United States: A Sourcebook, said that in her opinion, the state is afraid of gaming expansion based on outdated information. Torres said the Schaghticokes are well aware the Kent area is not appropriate for casinos and destructive planning. She said, “People are afraid of traffic, crime, disrupting the beauty of the area, the lack of control, building something without the town’s zoning influence. What is not being discussed is, that’s our land. We see the beauty, too! Why do you think we would do that?” . . .

Read more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/10/connecticut-attacks-proposed-fed-rec-revisions-fears-land-claims-casinos-155223


Velky to Washburn: Third Party Fed Rec Veto Is Unconstitutional

By Gale Courey Toensing

A proposal granting a third party veto power over a tribe’s effort to re-petition for federal recognition is unconstitutional, according to the chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

In a May 27 letter to the Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs (ASIA) Kevin Washburn, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) Chief Richard Velky said that the discussion draft of changes to the federal recognition regulations issued last spring was well received in Indian country. But not so with the proposed regulations announced in May, which included a new supplemental provision giving third parties that have been involved in litigation against tribes veto power over those tribes’ right to re-petition. Tribes 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 their consent before re-petitioning. In Connecticut, which has fought indigenous sovereignty for almost 400 years, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none, Indian leaders say.

Read more: http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/09/velky-washburn-third-party-fed-rec-veto-unconstitutional-155211


Battles Brewing Over Proposed Tribal-Recognition Rules

From the National Journal

. . . The Connecticut officials’ reaction comes amid concerns about its potential impact on the state’s current gambling agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes—which are already operating casinos there—and could further erode the state’s tax base.

The Eastern Pequot of North Stonington, the Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull, and the Schaghticoke of Kent are reported to be among the tribes in that state that have been fighting for years to get federal recognition. . .

Read more: http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/battles-brewing-over-proposed-tribal-recognition-rules-20140522


Discussion Draft – Chief Velky BIA Comments

In June of 2013, The Department of the Interiors Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs issued a Discussion Draft proposing revisions to the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) process for federal acknowledgment of Indian Tribes (25 CFR Part 83).

The State of Connecticut disagreed with Assistant Secretary Kevin K. Washburn proposed new rule changes in a letter sent from Governor Malloy dated February 24, 2014.  Accompanying his letter was a three page explanation of the state’s opposition to the recognition of tribes by requiring that all involved third parties consent to a tribe’s application regardless of the historical facts that support the tribe’s petition for recognition (see Governor Malloy’s letter to President Obama).

On May 22, 2014, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn announced publication of the proposed regulations.  As part of the revisions made in the proposed regulations,  the US government is attempting to block the recognition of tribes by requiring that all involved third parties consent to a tribe’s application regardless of the historical facts that support the tribe’s petition for recognition.

On May 27, 2014, Chief Velky commended Assistant Secretary Washburn in putting forth the new rule changes (see Chief Velky’s letter to Assistant Secretary Washburn). While objecting to a third party veto power over a tribe’s effort to repetition for federal acknowledgement, he believes the new rule changes do not comport with the due process and equal protection principles of our Constitution.  Chief Velky believes the Constitution does not provide for a state or its political subdivisions to exercise an absolute veto over the exercise of the constitutional authority.

On July 29, 2014, a public comment session was held at the Mashpee Reservation in Massachusetts in which tribal leaders voiced their opinions regarding the discussion draft for proposed revisions to the BIA process for federal recognition of Indian tribes (25 CFR Part 83). Video recordings of Chief Velky and Anthropologist Steve Austin can be viewed in the Press and Media tab.


Federal lawmakers criticize Bureau of Indian Affairs


. . . But House members were more critical of Connecticut’s efforts to get aid for towns that are fighting BIA tribal recognition decisions. Instead, said Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., “I think it’s just the opposite. We shouldn’t give money to the towns, we need to give money to the tribes.”

He said states like Connecticut and its local leaders are trying to influence the recognition process “in a way that is inappropriate.”

Rep. Nancy Johnson, R-Conn., told the panel that the state is not anti-Indian and does not challenge the idea of tribal sovereignty. But she referred to the BIA’s recent federal recognition of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Kent, and said the agency did not adhere to its own regulations when making that decision.

“The BIA process has been an absolute travesty,” she said. “The standards absolutely have to be clarified and adhered to.” . . .

Read more: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040401/NEWS01/304019982/0/SEARCH