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

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.

08/12/14

“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

08/4/14

Washburn Hears Frustration, Anger Over Third Party Federal Recognition Veto

By Gale Courey Toensing

. . . Around 100 people attending a public session on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ proposed new rules for federal recognition broke into spontaneous applause when Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Dennis Jenkins spoke against a controversial provision that would allow certain third parties to veto a tribe’s ability to re-petition for federal status.

“This [proposal] is not only morally reprehensible; it is also arbitrary and capricious and not in accordance with the laws of the United States. … It is the worst kind of modern day genocide,” Jenkins said, as the crowd cheered, whooped and whistled . . .

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/08/04/washburn-hears-frustration-anger-over-third-party-fed-rec-veto-156207?page=0%2C0

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

06/9/14

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

04/23/14

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

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04/2/13

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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