08/12/14

“Tribal chief on a mission for his heritage” Article and Comment Aftermath

Take a look at what went down in the Republican-American the other day: Tribal_chief_on_a_mission_for_his_heritage

Chief Velky on rock

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

06/12/14

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

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/

06/9/14

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

05/25/14

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

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07/31/13

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.

05/2/13

WSJ: Connecticut, Tribes Collide on Federal Rule

Joseph De Avila authored a column in the Wall Street Journal on the Indian tribes of Connecticut and the potential BIA rule change:

“…Under one proposal being considered by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, a tribe could bypass other requirements of the complex federal-recognition process if it has held a state-recognized reservation since 1934. The current rules are tougher: Tribes need to document they have been a distinct community with political authority since first contact with European settlers. The change could ease federal recognition for the three Connecticut tribes, which have struggled to document a continuous history. Two of the three tribes have won federal recognition in the past, but lost it after the state appealed…”

Chief Velky is featured in the article. Continue reading here: WSJ_Tribes Collide on Federal Rule.

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