The Eastern Pequot Tribe of Connecticut, which has sought federal recognition since the 1970s, doesn’t intend to abandon that pursuit, although new rules for recognition adopted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs seem to leave it out in the cold.
The just elected tribal chairman, Katherine Sebastian Dring, said she doesn’t plan to give up the fight. She told the Day, “For native people, the cause is never-ending,” added, “We will never give up.”
The tribe of about 1,200 members has been close to recognition. In 2002 the BIA recognized the tribe. The state of Connecticut and the towns of North Stonington, Preston and Ledyard contested the decision and the decision was reversed three years later.
The BIA last month announced new rules for tribal recognition that seem to preclude any further consideration. The new rules did not include a provision that would have allowed tribes once denied recognition to reapply—that rule was urgently opposed by the state’s congressional delegation, including both U.S. senators.
When the tribe originally sought recognition it was to obtain federal aid for health, education and housing. Now, of course, the tribe would like to join the state’s two other gaming tribes, the Pequots and the Mohegans, and open a casino.