A STATEMENT FROM SCHAGHTICOKE TRIBAL NATION CHIEF RICHARD VELKY
Thursday, August 4, 2016 – “While Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) believes that Special Act 15-7 violates the United States and Connecticut Constitutions in several ways, including by denying STN a fair and equal opportunity to compete for the State’s first commercial casino, we are choosing to focus our resources on the upcoming 2017 legislative session, which will present a critical opportunity for the General Assembly to fix Special Act 15-7’s anticompetitive and unconstitutional framework. STN will continue to evaluate its options for litigation after the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rules on MGM’s appeal, and after the 2017 legislative session.”
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TESTIMONY OF CHIEF RICHARD L. VELKY OF THE SCHAGHTICOKE TRIBAL NATION
ON A DISCUSSION DRAFT OF POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR’S PART 83 PROCESS
FOR ACKNOWLEDGING CERTAIN INDIAN GROUPS AS FEDERALLY-RECOGNIZED TRIBES
July 31, 2013 Consultation Indian Island, Maine
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Larry Roberts, and representatives of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today and to present testimony on behalf of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation on the Discussion Draft of Potential Changes to the Department’s Code of Federal Regulations Part 83 Process for Acknowledging Certain Indian Groups as Federally-recognized tribes.
I would like to begin by saying that from the perspective of a tribal nation that has been through the Federal acknowledgment process, we support the direction that the Discussion Draft appears to be pursuing in terms of making the Federal acknowledgment process more transparent, more clear, more efficient, and more workable.
By way of background, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has been through the Federal acknowledgment process. We filed our petition in 1981, and in January of 2004, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs issued a positive Final Determination on our petition.
However, that determination was met with a firestorm of political opposition from the State of Connecticut, Connecticut politicians, and Connecticut Towns. Every member of the Connecticut congressional delegation joined in publicly denouncing the Department’s positive Final Determination of a tribal nation that has existed for more than four hundred years, and that has been recognized as an Indian tribe from colonial times to the present – first by the Colony of Connecticut when it sequestered lands for the Nation in the 1700’s, and later by the State’s establishment of a reservation for the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.
But by 2005, a year after the positive Final Determination, the unrelenting political pressure on the Interior Department and the White House led to an unprecedented reversal of the positive Final Determination, and a “reconsidered” final determination was issued concluding that the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation was not entitled to a government-to-government relationship with the United States. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation shares this unique status with just one other tribal group, also recognized by the State of Connecticut, the Historical Eastern Pequot.
In 2007, I testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources on behalf of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, and in that testimony, I presented a number of recommendations which we are gratified to see reflected in the Discussion Draft…
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