02/5/16

Chief Velky: This Is “An Unconstitutional Act”

From the Hartford Courant:

“The obvious result of denying or rescinding our registration as a ‘tribal business entity’ would be to prevent us from issuing a request for proposals to municipalities regarding the establishment of a possible casino gaming facility in a host community,” Velky said in a statement. “We view this as an unconstitutional act on the part of the Secretary of the State’s office.”

Read more: http://www.courant.com/real-estate/property-line/hc-schaghticoke-fire-back-merrill-20160204-story.html

02/5/16

CT Post: State Admits Error In Accepting Schaghticoke Tribe’s Latest Casino Bid


Read the report by Jim Shay and Susan Tuz here: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Schaghticoke-tribe-pursues-3rd-CT-casino-6803196.php

To read Chief Velky’s response to Secretary Merrill, click here: 2-4-16 letter to Secretary of State Merrill.

To read the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation press release on the news, click here: Immediate Release Chief Velky STN 2-4-16

To read the STN press release on initial approval, click here: Schaghticoke Press Release 2-1-16.

07/1/15

Chief Velky: “The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation will not be deterred”

hc-tribal-leaders-condemn-new-federal-rules-bl-002

Richard Velky, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, stands in his hometown of Bridgeport in a 2005 Courant file photo. The federal government issued new standards this week for Native American tribes to gain recognition. (Richard Messina)

From Gregory B. Hladky in the Hartford Courant:

…Richard Velky, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, issued a statement saying the new rules approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs “betrays the trust” between the federal government and the tribe.

“The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation will not be deterred by the grave omissions and errors” in the new federal rules announced Monday, Velky said…

Read more here.

 

04/23/15

Washburn: Third-Party Veto Provision “May Be Indefensible In Court”

From Ana Radelat at the CT Mirror

Washington – Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, hinted Wednesday he may have eliminated a provision in new tribal recognition rules that would stymie efforts by several Connecticut tribes to seek federal status.

Connecticut state and local officials are concerned that recognition of those tribes could lead to land claims and new Indian casinos and affect a slot machine revenue-sharing agreement between the state and the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans, two federally recognized tribes with casinos in Connecticut.

“Ultimately, what we’ve been hearing is that the provision may be unconstitutional and even illegal,” Washburn said at a hearing on his proposal Wednesday before the Indian affairs panel of the House Natural Resources Committee.

He was referring to a provision he included in his proposed regulations that a tribe’s application be subject to the approval of those who have previously opposed their bids.

Washburn said he had included what has been called a “third-party veto” in his proposed changes to the recognition process “to give people who fought recognition also some equity” in the process.

But he said that it proved problematic.

“The provision may be indefensible in court,” he said.

The Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation of North Stonington, the Golden Hill Paugussett Nation of Bridgeport and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent, which have been denied recognition for years, would be given a second chance by the new rules, but would be stymied by a “third-party veto.” . . .

Continue reading here.

03/27/15

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

03/23/15

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/

03/15/15

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

10/9/14

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch Vouches For Reform Of Federal Recognition Process

Mayor Bill Finch | www.bridgeportct.gov

Mayor Bill Finch | www.bridgeportct.gov

By Gale Courey Toensing for Indian Country Today Media Network

. . . The mayor of Connecticut’s biggest city has written to the Bureau of Indian Affairs applauding the agency’s proposed new regulations for the federal acknowledgment process. The proposed regulations aim to reform a system that almost everyone has described as “broken” for the past two decades.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch objected to one item in the BIA proposal, however — a provision that would prevent the federal government from reconsidering the petitions of three tribes the state has recognized since the 17th and early 18th centuries when it started expropriating their lands. The provision would give third parties the power to stop tribes that have been denied recognition to seek reconsideration under the new regulations.

“If, as you say in your announcement released on May 22nd, that ‘Reform of the process is long-overdue’ and that a number of tribes were denied recognition under the current regulations, those tribes should be afforded due process under the revised provisions,” Finch wrote in a short letter to Interior Department Assistant Secretary — Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn on September 30. That was the last day of the comment period, which Washburn had extended for 60 days from its original August 30 deadline.

“A third party should not receive veto powers concerning reconsideration. That is not a state’s rights issue or the province of an individual or corporation,” Finch continued. “Rather, the third party should be offered the opportunity to submit documentation in the acknowledgment process that documents why a petitioner has not fulfilled the criteria for acknowledgment. All parties should receive appropriate notice but the regulations must address the Federal relationship with the Native American tribe without the outright denial by a third party without necessarily evaluating the facts of the petitioner.”

Finch’s support for Indian nations is at odds with the state’s entire congressional delegation of two senators, five representatives, Gov. Dannel Malloy, State Attorney General George Jepson and a coalition of town mayors and selectmen – all led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), who has been an Indian fighter for more than 20 years. . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/09/voice-reason-connecticuts-anti-fed-rec-wilderness-157266

10/1/14

Radelat: Connecticut presses BIA to scrap Indian recognition proposal

By Ana Radelat for The CT Mirror

Washington — The administration of Gov. Dannel Malloy has asked the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to scrap proposed rule changes the state believes could lead to recognition of additional Indian tribes in Connecticut.

The BIA has been considering the rule changes for months. The state says the changes could open the door to large land claims and expanded Indian gaming in Connecticut. Yet Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, has said he’s determined to fix what he’s called a “broken” federal recognition process.

The federal tribal recognition rules in place require a tribe to prove its continuous community and political authority since first contact with European settlers. Washburn’s proposal would change that to allow a petitioning tribe to demonstrate it has maintained a state reservation since 1934. Washburn‘s new regulation would also allow tribes that have been denied recognition to apply again. . .

Click here to continue reading.

08/21/14

Edward J. McDonnell III: “Genteel genocide” continues against Schaghticoke

By Edward J. McDonnell III for Indian Country Today Media Network

A genteel genocide continues apace in Connecticut; not of a people, but of a long, proud heritage. The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation gained federal recognition in 2004 after 25 years of struggle.

Strident opponents exacted a heavy price: less-than-ideal financial backing from an investor seeking to build a third casino in Connecticut. Federal recognition and plans to construct an entertainment facility in Bridgeport only redoubled the state’s century-old campaign to exterminate the Schaghticokes.

Connecticut’s public leaders placed private agendas ahead of public fairness by browbeating the U.S. Department of the Interior into revoking that recognition last October.

Natives had better stand together with the Schaghticokes – emulating the recent show of solidarity by the gracious tribal council chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag – lest other hard-won sovereignties suffer similar overthrows.

In this case, appealing news copy of old-line Yankees defeating “ragtag” minions of casino thugs hid the real wrongdoing. . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2006/05/17/connecticuts-campaign-exterminate-schaghticokes-117672