Jul 19, 2013
08:43 AM
Connecticut Today

Federal Changes Could Aid Schaghticoke Tribe's Connecticut Casino Plans

Federal Changes Could Aid Schaghticoke Tribe's Connecticut Casino Plans

A picture of the "Scaticook" Reservation in Kent on the Web site of the Connecticut State Library.

Kent First Selectman Bruce Adams recently met with representatives of Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty to discuss proposed changes to the process by which Native American tribes achieve federal recognition. Also joining in the conversation were state Sen. Clark Chapin and state Rep. Roberta Willis.

Mr. Adams said the meeting was set up by Sen. Blumenthal’s office. The senator was instrumental in fighting several Indian petitions for sovereignty in the early 2000s when he was Connecticut’s attorney general.

The meeting came in the wake of the June 21 unveiling by Kevin Washburn, Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, of a “Preliminary Discussion Draft” of changes to the DOI’s process for granting federal recognition to Indian groups. Recognition grants sovereign status to tribes and with it the right to operate gaming casinos.

Kent is particularly concerned about the recognition process because it has waged a long, and to-date successful, battle opposing federal recognition for the Schaghticoke, a tribe that has its reservation within the boundaries of the town.

The Schaghticoke have avowed their interest in opening a gaming operation in Connecticut, but it is unlikely Kent would be the site of a new casino—gaming promoters would undoubtedly try to bargain with the state legislature for a more lucrative venue than Kent, where the reservation is located on 400-rocky acres backed up against a precipitous mountain. Indeed, an early tribal backer was Fred DeLuca, founder of the Subway sandwich chain, who envisioned a new casino revitalizing the economy of his native Bridgeport.

But the Town of Kent, the prestigious Kent School, a preparatory school that sits on much of the Schaghticoke’s former reservation lands, CL&P and other landowners have other concerns. They are the subject of a lawsuit instituted in the 1980s by the Schaghticoke. The lawsuit’s prosecution, which seeks the return of some 2,000 acres of prime land, was made contingent on federal recognition by the federal Superior Court Judge Peter Dorsey.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation (STN) lost its bid for recognition in 2008 because it could not prove it had maintained a continuous cultural community and political authority since first contact with white settlers, two of the seven criteria tribes are required to satisfy for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the agency charged with granting recognition. The STN has since lost several appeals.

See the full story on The Litchfield County Times online

 

Federal Changes Could Aid Schaghticoke Tribe's Connecticut Casino Plans

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