WSHU: Schaghticoke Continues Fight For Federal Recognition — And Its Benefits

“Connecticut has announced its new Keno game, introduced in April, brought in $12 million in its first two months. That’s nearly twice what the state had projected.

Part of the proceeds are going to the state’s two federally recognized American Indian tribes, the Mashantucket and the Mohegan. But there are three other state-recognized Indian tribes in Connecticut. They are not getting any of the proceeds because only the two federally recognized tribes have a gaming compact with the state”

WSHU Senior Political Reporter Ebong Udoma and Reporter Davis Dunavin have been covering this development and spoke about it with Morning Edition Host Tom Kuser.

Listen to full interview here: http://wshu.org/post/schaghticoke-continues-fight-federal-recognition-and-its-benefits



Chief Of Schaghticoke Tribal Nation Testifies At Public Safety Committee Public Hearing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Chief Richard Velky
March 8, 2016

Email: chiefvelkystn@aol.com

Urges Legislators to Amend SB 357 to Allow All State Recognized Tribes the
Opportunity to Conduct Tribal Bingo Operations

Kent, Connecticut — Today, the Chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN), Richard Velky, testified before the Connecticut General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee, urging legislators to amend Senate Bill 357 (An Act Concerning Gaming). During his testimony, Chief Velky asked the committee to “keep focused” on the bill’s stated purpose, which is to amend and correct the State’s bingo laws.

“…the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is a Connecticut recognized tribe, just like the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe. And as many of you know, we have been pursuing an opportunity to create our own gaming entity,” Velky remarked. “We therefore ask the Committee to amend S.B. 357 to give the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation…and all state-recognized tribes…an opportunity to conduct tribal bingo operations…and ensure STN is given equal consideration for any future commercial casino in Connecticut.”

“To us, tribal gaming is about creating an economic opportunity for an impoverished people and if we were permitted to pursue gaming, we would use that opportunity to create jobs for us and for the surrounding communities,” added Velky.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation is one of the oldest state-recognized tribes in the U.S., formally recognized by the Colony of Connecticut in 1736.

Read Chief Velky’s full testimony here.


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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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/



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)






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





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