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?”
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