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

10/9/14

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

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

07/19/13

Blumenthal Stirs Opposition to Federal Recognition – Again

By Gale Courey Toensing

It didn’t take long for the Connecticut official who was once called “the enemy of Indian country” to start stirring up opposition to proposed revisions to the federal acknowledgment process.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal organized a meeting in his Connecticut office on July 9 office to rouse local and state officials into fighting a “Preliminary Discussion Draft” of potential changes to the federal acknowledgment regulations. The draft was released just two weeks earlier by Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn. It was enthusiastically received by tribal leaders and others at the National Congress of American Indian’s Federal Recognition Task Force during the organizations’ mid-year conference in Reno, Nevada, at the end of June.

The news that Blumenthal was working to undermine Washburn’s proposal was announced in a newspaper report datelined Kent, Connecticut, where the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has a 400-acre reservation and a pending land claim under the 1790 Indian Trade and Nonintercourse Act for some 2,000-plus acres, including hundreds of acres used by Kent School, a private prep school. “Town, school gird for fight: Legal battle looms on tribal recognition,” in the Republican American reported on a Kent Board of Selectmen’s meeting July 2 when First Selectman Bruce Adams shared a three-page document called “Talking Points – Proposal Will Change BIA Rules and Award Federal Tribal Status to Previously Denied Tribal Groups in CT” and announced he would attend a meeting the next week at Blumenthal’s office to discuss the proposed changes to the federal acknowledgment process…

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/07/19/blumenthal-stirs-opposition-federal-recognition-again-150496

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06/10/13

Hartford Courant Joins Blumenthal’s Anti-Indian Campaign

By Gale Courey Toensing

It’s the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United States. George Washington placed an ad in it to lease part of his Mount Vernon land. Thomas Jefferson sued it for libel and lost. Mark Twain tried to buy stock in it, but was rejected. It’s Connecticut’s largest daily newspaper. And now it’s joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other elected officials in a racist anti-Indian campaign against reforming the federal recognition process – all in an effort to stop additional Connecticut tribes from being acknowledged and opening casinos.
The Hartford Courant, which began as a weekly in 1764, published an editorial August 8 warning against a draft proposal of changes to the Interior Department’s federal acknowledgment process that Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn released June 21.

Blumenthal is leading the campaign in opposition to the reform effort in order to stop the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation (EPTN) and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) from possibly regaining the federal acknowledgments they received in 2002 and 2004, respectively. The acknowledgments were overturned in 2005 after Blumenthal led a relentless and orchestrated campaign of opposition and political pressure involving local and state elected officials and an anti-Indian sovereignty group and its powerful White house-connected lobbyist, Barbour Griffith & Rogers (BGR). An Indian Country Today Media Network editorial, “A Lack of Interior Fortitude,” describes “the force of outside pressure” and its impact across the country…

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/08/10/hartford-courant-joins-blumenthals-anti-indian-campaign-150807

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