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.” . . .