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.” . . .

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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. . .

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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

05/22/14

Battles Brewing Over Proposed Tribal-Recognition Rules

From the National Journal

. . . The Connecticut officials’ reaction comes amid concerns about its potential impact on the state’s current gambling agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes—which are already operating casinos there—and could further erode the state’s tax base.

The Eastern Pequot of North Stonington, the Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull, and the Schaghticoke of Kent are reported to be among the tribes in that state that have been fighting for years to get federal recognition. . .

Read more: http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/battles-brewing-over-proposed-tribal-recognition-rules-20140522

04/25/14

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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04/22/14

BIA latest recognition proposal is blow to CT tribes

By Ana Radelat 

. . . But, in what Jones said was political pressure from Connecticut officials, the BIA changed a previous draft of the proposal to include language that says, in order to renew their claims, tribes whose bids for federal recognition have been rejected must receive approval from those who previously opposed their recognition.

That would make it very difficult for the Eastern Pequot of North Stonington, the Golden Hill Paugussett of Colchester and Trumbull, and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation of Kent, to make another application. Their bids for federal recognition were rejected and the entire Connecticut political establishment has, for years, opposed the tribes’ recognition and still does – strongly.

The BIA’s new proposed rules say “an entity that previously petitioned and was denied federal acknowledgment” including a reconstituted tribe or splinter group, can reapply only if “any third parties that participated as a party in an administrative reconsideration or federal court appeal concerning the petitioner has consented in writing to the re-petitioning” and the tribe meets other requirements in the proposed regulations.

“It’s clearly an indication of influence peddling,” Jones said of the restrictive language. . .

Read more: http://ctmirror.org/bia-latest-recognition-proposal-is-blow-to-ct-tribes/

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