Saturday, July 31, 2010


Appeals court denies Mashpee Wampanaog claim to ancestral land
Friday, July 30, 2010

Two members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts lost their land claim before the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals today.

Amelia Bingham and her son, Steven, sued the state for depriving them of their right to land that was deeded to Mashpee ancestors in the late 1600s. The deeds said the land was to be owned by "the South Sea Indians: and their[] Children for ever: and not to be sold or given away from them by any one: without all their[] Consents there unto."

The Binghams said they are descendants of the South Sea Indians but the 1st Circuit said they didn't show how their ancestors held an actual interest in the land at issue. "Plaintiffs must show they had an individual interest in the property rights granted in the seventeenth-century deeds in order to show they were personally injured by the later state actions affecting those property rights," the court noted.

"Plaintiffs can do so only if the deeds conveyed to plaintiffs' individual ancestors discrete property interests that passed through successive generations," the court continued. "Even when viewing all facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, and taking all reasonable inferences in their favor, plaintiffs have not alleged sufficient facts to surmount this bar."

The Binghams filed the lawsuit on their own behalf. The tribe itself has not filed a land claim.

1st Circuit Decision:
Bingham v. Massachusetts (July 30, 2010)

Article taken from

Friday, July 30, 2010


Shinnecock Nation presented with dozens of locations for a casino
Thursday, July 29, 2010

A couple of years ago, no one wanted to talk to the Shinnecock Nation of New York about gaming. Now everyone is courting the tribe with the hopes of landing a casino in their community.

"We never realized how much land is available on Long Island until this happened," Tribal trustee Lance Gumbs said at a gaming task force meeting, The Riverhead News-Review reported. "Everybody and their brother now is presenting different pieces to us."

Gumbs said "upwards of 30 sites" have been presented to the tribe. Some of them have been publicized in local media reports.

The tribe's federal recognition was due to become final last week. It will be delayed due to a challenge filed with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Who are the secret interests lobbying for Connecticut's casinos?
By David Collins

Publication: The Day
Published 07/25/2010 12:00

It calls itself the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs, and it jumped headlong into New England gambling politics earlier this month, filing a lengthy legal appeal of the pending federal recognition of Long Island's Shinnecock Indians.

The appeal with the U.S. Department of the Interior, filed "on behalf" of 18,000 gaming workers at Mohegan Sun and Foxwooods Resort Casino, claims the Shinnecocks should not be recognized because they are "financially supported solely, directly and for the benefit of" the developers who want to help them build a casino on Long Island.

Of course, the fact that the Shinnecocks may be financially supported by casino developers shouldn't surprise anyone, least of all the folks at the Department of the Interior.

What is shocking is that this Connecticut coalition, which surfaced out of the blue to challenge the Shinnecocks, won't say who its members or backers are or where its own money is coming from.

Both the Mohegan Indians and Mashantucket Pequots have been quick to distance themselves from the new group, already branded "shadowy" in some accounts.

The Connecticut tribes are surely no doubt sensitive to the notion that they would in any way be behind efforts to derail another tribe's progress toward federal recognition.

"The Mohegan Tribe has nothing whatsoever to do with the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs," a Mohegan spokesman said bluntly in a statement. A Mashantucket Pequot spokesperson said only they heard about the group through news accounts.

The front person for the coalition is Matthew Hennessy, former chief of staff and political director for disgraced former Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez. Hennessy last made the news earlier this summer as a defense witness at the trial in which Perez was convicted on multiple felony charges.

The work for the coalition, Hennessy told me last week, is one of a number of "advocacy issues" his firm, Tremont Public Advisors, has done for a variety of "corporate interests" since he stopped working for the former mayor about a year ago.

He declined to name any of his other clients.

Attorney Derek Donnelly of Suffield, who signed the extensive appeal the coalition filed with the Department of the Interior against the Shinnecocks, is also a former Perez aide and a one-time unsuccessful candidate for the General Assembly.

Donnelly declined to talk about his work for the coalition when I talked to him last week, saying he has been told not to speak with the press.

Chris Cooper, a former spokesman for Gov. M. Jodi Rell and a current spokesman for the gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele, has been hired by the coalition as a communications specialist.

Cooper, strangely, also declined to talk on the record about the coalition or its membership and referred me to Hennessy. Cooper did say, though, that neither Rell nor Fidele have anything to do with the coalition.

Hennessy told me that the coalition and its members are also concerned about developments in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that could lead to new competition for Connecticut's casinos, but he said they acted promptly in the case of the Shinnecocks because the clock on appeals started with the final recognition imposed this month on the tribe.

A judge last week already gave the Shinnecocks, who have been seeking recognition since 1978, some good news in regards to the appeal filed by the coalition and another fled by a separate Long Island tribe, suggesting there could be some resolution of the issues by September.

The Shinnecocks are reportedly considering a variety of locations for a casino if their recognition is made final, from sites near their reservation in the Hamptons, on the north fork of Long Island, to more populated areas in Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Indeed, a large Long Island casino close to New York could be as troubling to the Connecticut casinos as one in Massachusetts.

Hennessy said some members of the coalition may or may not choose to identify themselves sometime soon.

I asked him whether the coalition's work and efforts at lobbying on behalf of Connecticut's casino interests aren't tainted by the secrecy.

After all, disclosure and transparency are mainstays of most lobbying ethics rules.

No, was his short answer.

"I think the important thing is our goals," he said. "What we want to accomplish and our mission are transparent."

The longer contributing coalition members choose to remain anonymous, the more compromised they will be when they come forward or finally get identified.

And revelation, in this case, seems inevitable.

If you are going to lobby in secret, you better do it really well.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Mashantucket Tribe filed appeal over union vote at casino on time
Monday, July 26, 2010

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut has filed an appeal over a union vote at its casino.

A spokesperson for the National Labor Relations Board told The Norwich Bulletin last week that the tribe failed to meet a deadline for an appeal. But it turns out that the NLRB in Washington, D.C., received the tribe's paperwork on time.

The United Food and Commercial Workers wants to represent about 360 employees at Foxwoods Resort Casino. The union previously tried to organize under tribal law but the effort failed due to the way non-votes were counted as "no" votes.

The tribe says an NLRB election will interfere with its own laws

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Town upset after Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe blocks beach path
Friday, July 23, 2010

A pile of twigs, some brush and a sign is stirring a new controversy for the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.

The tribe recently blocked an access path to the popular Lobsterville Beach on Martha's Vineyard. The decision has enraged leaders in the town of Aquinnah.

"The taxpayers in town are being deprived of their right to access to the beach and that right is established by an act of Congress," town selectwoman Camille Rose told The Martha's Vineyard Gazette.

The path was closed because it was not a public path, the director of the tribe's natural resources department told The Martha's Vineyard Times. Parking also has been restricted to two points along the beach.

"It is a piece of private property," Bret Stearns told the paper. "The tribal lands are not open to public access, with the exception of where it has already been established by agreement."

In 1987, Congress passed an act to settle the tribe's land claims. The state courts have ruled that the settlement subjected the tribe to local and state laws and that it waived the tribe's sovereign immunity for alleged violations of local and state laws.

The tribe will hold a public meeting next week to Thursday to discuss the issue.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Story taken from

Friday, July 23, 2010


Shinnecock Nation casino partner filed papers for 'gaming' group
Thursday, July 22, 2010

The gaming firm that wants to develop a casino for the Shinnecock Nation of New York apparently tried to block a mysterious group from using the name "Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs," The Hartford Courant reports.

Tom Shields, a spokesperson for Gateway Casino Resorts, filed papers for the name last Thursday. That was a day after Matthew Hennessy, a lobbyist, announced the creation of the "Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs."

However, the original name for the mysterious group was the "Coalition for Connecticut Gaming Jobs." Hennessy changed the name to "Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs'" just hours before Shields filed the papers, the Courant reported.

As a reuslt, the Connecticut secretary of the state blocked Shields because the name was already taken. "The folks at Gateway are aware that I did this," he told the paper. "I told them."

Hennessy has refused to divulge who is behind the "Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs." The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe both say they are not connected in any way to the group.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from


Thursday, July 22, 2010


Land-into-trust fix still faces major obstacles in House and Senate
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tribes and the Obama administration are united in their support for a fix to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar but Congress isn't rushing towards a solution.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee passed a bill to ensure that all tribes, regardless of the date of federal recognition, can follow the land-into-trust process. But the bill has yet to come up for a vote on the Senate floor amid a lack of Republican support and an association of the issue with Indian gaming, said Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota).

There is Republican support for a fix in the House. But the House leadership doesn't appear to be behind the bill, according to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma), a member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Tribal advocates believe the best strategy is to attach the bill to another piece of must-pass legislation. There's been discussion of such a move since late last year

“This bill will not move as a standalone due to political opposition,” lobbyist Debbie Ho of Ietan Consulting told tribal leaders at a summit hosted by the National Congress of American Indians and the United South and Eastern Tribes, Indian Country Today reported.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Shinnecock Nation endures another delay over federal recognition
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Shinnecock Nation of New York almost joined the list of federally recognized tribes on Monday but a challenge will force another delay in the process.

The tribe was the fourth group to file a petition for federal recognition in 1978. The tribe completed its application in September 2003 but had to go to court to force the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make a final decision.

The BIA issued a final determination in favor of the tribe on June 15. It was due to become official yesterday but a group called the "Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs" filed a challenge with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals.

It's not known how long the IBIA process will take. Another group, a splinter faction of the Montaukett Tribe of New York, also filed a challenge, Newsday reported.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Shinnecock recognition in limbo Shinnecock recognition in limbo
by Claude Solnik
Published: July 19, 2010

They waited. And they waited. And now they’re waiting again.

It was a case of a dream delayed, if not denied, for the Shinnecock Indian Nation today as the much-awaited federal recognition failed to materialize.

A month after receiving a call notifying them that the federal government would recognize the Shinnecock Indian Nation, there was no congratulatory call, no victory lap.

The 30-day comment period expired quietly today after which the recognition would take effect, if there were no protests.

But a group called the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs filed a protest, at least temporarily putting recognition on hold.

“We recommended the final determination,” said Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. “The final finding was they were to be recognized.”

But the Interior Board of Indian Appeals received the protest, which must be ruled on before that decision is ratified.

A spokeswoman for the Board of Appeals earlier today said the judge hadn’t issued any ruling regarding the case.

“They have to look at the appeal. They do all the research,” Darling said. “We made the decision. There is an appeals process.”

Calls seeking comment from the Shinnecocks weren’t immediately returned. But as recognition appeared to retreat for the moment, Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman, I-Montauk, in a written statement lashed out at efforts to stall the decision.

He said interests sought to stop the Shinnecocks from rightful recognition in order to benefit Connecticut casinos and other businesses. Federal recognition brings the right to develop a casino.

“For the past 20 years, Connecticut has benefited significantly from the great number of Long Islanders who spend their money in Connecticut casinos,” Schneiderman said. “The loss of this revenue is what is motivating this new attack on our indigenous people.”

A spokesman for the Connecticut group wouldn’t say who financed it, but said it did not represent tribes that own casinos in Connecticut.

The challenge by the group, which records indicate was created only days before the filing, will be handled by the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, an appellate review body whose administrative judges decide appeals to decisions of the Bureau of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior.

While IBIA decisions represent the department’s final rulings, they may be appealed to the United States district courts. This could open the door to delays due to litigation.

The Department of Interior’s final determination, which is being challenged, treats the Shinnecock Indian Nation as having existed at least since 1789 as a historical Indian tribe.

An act passed by New York in 1792 re-organized this tribe as a trusteeship, living on a leasehold created in 1703 in Southampton.

The law provided for annual elections of three Indian trustees, elections that have taken place from 1792 to the present.

The trustees have allocated the group’s land and resources consistently for almost 220 years, according to the Department of the Interior.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Both tribes in Connecticut deny connection to new 'gaming' group
Monday, July 19, 2010

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mohegan Tribe both say they are not connected in any way to a new "gaming" group that is challenging the federal recognition of the Shinnecock Nation of New York.

"Have absolutely nothing to do with them," Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegans' chief of staff, told The Norwich Bulletin.

"We are not affiliated with them in any way whatsoever," a spokesperson for the Pequots told the paper.

The calls itself the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs. Its spokesperson is a lobbyist who won't divulge the identities of any of its members.

The Shinnecock Nation's federal recognition was due to become final today. But the group's challenge, which was filed with the Interior Board of Indian Appeals, will delay the matter.


Monday, July 12, 2010


Mashantucket Tribe to appeal NLRB decision over union at casino
Friday, July 9, 2010

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut said it will fight the National Labor Relations Board over a union vote at its casino.

A regional director of the NLRB ordered an election among bartenders, beverage servers and related workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino. The United Food and Commercial Workers wants to represent about 360 employees.

The appeal would go to the NLRB board in Washington, D.C., which has enough members to make valid decisions. A prior ruling that went against the tribe was made by a two-member NLRB, in apparent violation of the National Labor Relations Act, according to a U.S. Supreme Court decision issued last month.

The tribe has been working with unions under tribal law.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


Oneida Nation tests smoke-free policy at two gaming facilities
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is testing a smoke-free policy at two of its gaming facilities.

The facilities went smoke free on June 1. The tribe wants to see whether the policy has an effect on revenues.

"Gaming revenue is the tribe's lifeblood," Vice chairwoman Kathy Hughes told The Green Bay Press-Gazette "We're already seeing an impact from the economy, so we don't want to do anything else that is going to cause a greater negative effect on that."

A new Wisconsin law bans smoking in any indoor establishment or workplace. The law does not apply on reservations.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Mashantucket Tribe continues talks to restructure gaming debt
Friday, July 2, 2010

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut continues to negotiate with its lenders over $1.3 billion in gaming debt.

The tribe has been unable to make payments on the debt since last fall. A $700 million revolving credit is due July 13 so talks have taken on a new urgency, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Revenues at Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods have fallen consistently over the past year.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Article taken from

Could this happen to the Mohegan Tribe also? How will this affect tribal members? Will tribal members suffer because of the poor judgement of the Mohegan Tribal Council? What do you think?


IRS seeks wide range of information on Seneca Nation spending
Friday, July 2, 2010

The Internal Revenue Service has launched a broad probe into the Seneca Nation, its businesses and its spending, The Buffalo News reports.

The IRS wants the tribe to turn over a wide range of documents, the paper said. The request includes information about payments to President Barry E. Snyder Sr. and other employees, records of per capita payments to tribal members, records of all property leases signed by the tribe, records on all payments by the tribe and reports of any audits of tribal finances.

The paper said the probe centers in spending in the year 2008.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: This article came from

Could the same thing happen to the Mohegan Tribal Government? Does the Mohegan Tribal Council allow tribal members to see how much money they spend on their expense accounts? What about the business deals the MTGA have made in the past and present? Could the B.I. A. become involved also? Will the I.R.S. look at the MTGA? What do you think?