Schaghticoke Chief’s Daughter Takes Fight to Web

From the Connecticut Post:

WASHINGTON — As far as Melissa Velky is concerned, she is Native American, tried and true.

The 24-year-old daughter of Richard Velky, chief of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, Melissa spent many a childhood day on the tribe’s 300-acre state reservation in Kent, Conn. As convinced as she is of her heritage, the federal government has said otherwise — declining to grant the tribe federal recognition, she claims, after state elected officials intervened. It is an injustice in her eyes and something she hopes to convince young Americans to rally around. “When we got our recognition reversed it was like my future being stomped on by the government,” Velky said in a recent interview. Velky, who is in her third year at Michigan State University’s College of Law, plans soon to launch “Students for Justice,” an Internet-based campaign that will utilize social networks like Facebook and MySpace to spread the word. “I’ve been through it all,” she said. “I’m interested in all aspects of the recognition process and hope other people will get involved and see what I see.” Velky was not yet born in 1981 when the tribe sent a letter of intent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs that they planned to petition for recognition. After years of gathering historical, genealogical and other records, the tribe submitted its petition to BIA and was approved on Jan. 29, 2004. The decision, however, was reversed on Oct. 12, 2005, on appeal from the state.

Continue reading

New Studies Show Pequot and Mohegan Casinos are Good*

From the Connecticut Economy, a journal published by the University of Connecticut.

The first article, “Spill-Free Gaming,” demonstrated that the operation of the Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun casinos had no adverse effect on local crime rates. A second article, “The State of Play in New England Casino Gaming,” argues that the enormous revenues generated by gaming Connecticut means that legalized gambling in Rhode Island and Massachusetts is inevitable. Another article, “Got Game?” demonstrated that these two casinos contribute $430 million a year to the Conn. general fund.

Continue reading

Schaghticoke Tribal Nation v. Kempthorne Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment

The parties in Schaghticoke Tribal Nation v. Kempthorne have filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

STN’s brief was filed in September: Schaghticoke Summary Judgment Brief

The United States brief is here: Federal Summary Judgment Brief

The State of Connecticut’s brief is here: Connecticut Intervenors Brief for Summary Judgment

The Shinnecock Tribe and the Handbook of Federal Indian Law

The Shinnecock tribe has an interesting argument in favor of their federal recognition. From the East Hampton Star:

“The Shinnecocks have since sued the Department of Interior in federal district court to be placed on the list. They maintain it is illegal to not place them on the list after they have received federal judicial recognition.

“The tribe also filed an amended complaint incorporating documents that show that the tribe was listed in a 1914 Department of Interior report to the United States Congress as a tribe in New York State subject to federal jurisdiction with federally protected lands. This was reaffirmed in other department lists dated 1929, 1938, and 1941, according to the Shinnecocks.

Mr. Gumbs noted that the tribe was also included in a book “The Handbook of Federal Indian Law,” compiled by Felix Cohen for the Department of the Interior in 1945, which includes the Shinnecocks in its listing of tribes in New York State. The tribes listed here and in the other department lists have all since been added to the department’s current list of federally recognized tribes or have successfully sued to be placed on it without having to go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs review, he said.

More details of the tribe’s claims are here.

Schaghticoke Tribal Nation v. Kempthorne Materials

Filed orders and opinions are available here in this ongoing case:

Here are the proposed finding documents dated December 5, 2002.

Here is the notice of proposed finding against the Nation dated December 11, 2002.

Here are the final determination documents dated January 29, 2004.

Here is the notice of final determination dated February 5, 2004 favoring federal recognition of STN.

Here is the appeal to to IBIA, dated May 12, 2005, reversing the decision.

Interlocutory opinions in the ongoing federal case in the US District Court in Connecticut are here:

June 14, 2006 opinion

June 26, 2006 opinion

October 3, 2006 Opinion

March 3, 2007 Opinion

A motion for summary judgment has been filed. Once we get that motion, we will upload it here.

Shinnecock Alters Gaming Proposal

Now it’s not going to be a casino….

Here’s the story, from Indianz…. “The Shinnecock Nation of New York is offering to drop its controversial plans for a casino on Long Island.

The tribe instead wants to build a $1.4 billion gaming resort at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. A last-minute proposal is being submitted today.”

Update: The New York Times coverage is here

The Schaghticoke Case: Federal Recognition and Politics

The federal recognition process is broke and the case of the petition of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation in Connecticut is the perfect example.

Here are the proposed finding documents dated December 5, 2002.

Here is the notice of proposed finding against the Nation dated December 11, 2002.

Here are the final determination documents dated January 29, 2004.

Here is the notice of final determination dated February 5, 2004 favoring federal recognition of STN.

Here is the appeal to to IBIA, dated May 12, 2005, reversing the decision.

Here is an editorial in the (normally) hostile Hartford Courant decrying the blatant anti-Indian politics played by powerful figures that have corrupted the recognition process in this matter, and as reported in Indianz.com. From the editorial:

We know about all the press conferences, the showboat congressional hearings and the charges of corruption that dominated the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation’s long, unsuccessful fight for federal recognition.

Now, as the Schaghticokes, whose reservation is in Kent, make a final pitch to revive their case in federal court, it’s clear powerful forces were at work behind the scenes. Led by our congressional delegation, opponents went straight to the top in their effort to undo the tribe’s federal recognition.

Interlocutory opinions in the ongoing federal case in the US District Court in Connecticut are here:

June 14, 2006 opinion

June 26, 2006 opinion

Other opinions will be added as we find them.

My own work on federal recognition can be found here.