Connecticut Tribe Tries Again for Federal Recognition

The Schaghticoke Indian Tribe based in Kent, Connecticut has applied for a second time to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to grant it federal status. It has done so even though newly adopted rules for federal recognition would seem to prevent it from ever happening.

Although the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe of Kent, Connecticut previously applied for federal recognition and didn’t get it, it is going for a roll of the dice again, even though new federal rules would seem to prevent its application from being considered.

If the 120-member tribe’s application IS approved that would put it in a position to be the third tribe in the state to operate a casino. But, says the tribe, it might also try to charter a bank or go into medical care.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs last week confirmed that it has gotten the tribe’s application and will review them to see if it is a valid application.

Tribal consultant William Buchanan characterized the action of the tribe as fighting “for our identity.” The tribe claims about 2,000 acres along the Housatonic River that includes a hydroelectric plant and part of a private school.

There are actually two Schaghticoke tribes, the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe and the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which split in the 1980s. It was the Tribal Nation that applied for recognition and was first granted and then, in a reversal, denied recognition.

Although new federal rules for recognition prevent tribes that were once rejected for recognition applying again, the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe asserts that it is a different tribe from the one whose application was denied.

Tribes that have been denied recognition have one recourse, according to the BIA: seeking recognition by an act of Congress.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who as attorney general previously opposed the tribe’s application, called for it to be rejected again.

“They can, say, submit, and send whatever they wish but they are doomed to failure — and I am determined to fight such illegal attempts at sovereign tribal status,” he said in a statement.