Opinion: Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe still fighting for legitimacy

Federal recognition reforms at the Bureau of Indian Affairs have politicians in Connecticut worried about the resurgence of the Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe:
More than 20 years ago, a small group of people who identified themselves as members of the Golden Hill Paugussett tribe opened an office in Bridgeport and started a very public effort to win recognition as a legitimate Indian tribe from the federal government.

One of the problems they had then was that their front man, Aurelius H. Piper Jr. -- aka Chief Quiet Hawk -- with his dark skin, pencil mustache and sharkskin suits looked more like Little Richard than Geronimo.

"Those guys are Indians?" was the general mutterance of the day.

Never mind that Aurelius Jr. was the son of Aurelius H. Piper, aka Chief Big Eagle, who'd been living on the Golden Hill Paugussett reservation in Trumbull for decades, keeping alive the tribe, along with another group of Golden Hill Paugussetts in Colchester.

Was Chief Quiet Hawk black? Sure. Let's think back to pre-Civil Rights America, say, the '30s, '40s and earlier. African-Americans and Indians were about as natural a pairing at the bottom of the social ladder as might exist.

So Author Wojciechowski's mention of the word "struggle" in his inscription to Chief Big Eagle is not hyperbole.

Get the Story:
Michael J. Daly: A rumpled envelope and a renewed tribal effort (The Connecticut Post 3/8)

Federal Register Notice:
Procedures for Establishing That an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe (June 26, 2013)

Relevant Documents:
Dear Tribal Leaders Letter
Present Version - 25 CFR Part 83 Procedures for Establishing that an American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe
Red Lined Proposed Version - 25 CFR Part 83 Procedures for Establishing that American Indian Group Exists as an Indian Tribe

Related Stories
Editorial: Some Indians become inconvenient for Connecticut (3/7)
Editorial: Don't let BIA water down federal recognition process (3/6)
Connecticut governor opposes BIA federal recognition reforms (2/27) Connecticut politicians want BIA to drop recognition reform (8/30)
Connecticut leads opposition to federal recognition reforms (8/26)
BIA extends comment period on federal recognition proposal (08/13)

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