Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Schaghticoke resurrect hopes for recognition BY GEORGE KRIMSKY REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

KENT — The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, encouraged by the change of guard in Washington and the recent fortunes of another tribe, has resurrected its long-standing quest for federal recognition.

Only three months ago, the chances of winning its 15-year fight for sovereignty seemed doomed, sending a sigh of relief through this small town on the western border where the tribe's only reservation is located.

For Kent, Schaghticoke recognition basically means "casino," despite denials from the tribe's leadership."We continue to say that never in our wildest dreams would we propose Kent for gaming," Chief Richard Velky told the Sunday Republican last week. "The infrastructure just isn't there. We would look for another host community."

Bridgeport has been most frequently mentioned.A federal appeals court rejected the Schaghticoke's case last October, but the tribe has now asked the same court to reconsider its decision, primarily on technical grounds.

The tribe has argued that in late 2005 the Bureau of Indian Affairs reversed its earlier favorable ruling for recognition, succumbing to improper political arm-twisting from lobbyists hired by a Kent citizens' group.

Judge Peter C. Dorsey of the U.S. District Court in New Haven rejected the complaint against BIA in 2008, and his ruling was upheld by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

The tribe was represented by a new attorney who specializes in appeals, Richard Emanual of Branford, who went back to the appellate court in November, saying it had misinterpreted a key aspect of the case. He also asked that the full court of nine judges rehear the case, instead of the three-judge panel that issued the ruling three months ago.

The Schaghticoke are heartened by a change of leadership at the Department of the Interior, which governs BIA, and, in Velky's words, "someone in the White House who cares about what happens to Native Americans."

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