BIA 'bewildered' by state request
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AUGUST 10, 2000

During the final day of a meeting discussing the federal recognition petitions of two Pequot tribes, Virginia DeMarce, a Bureau of Indian Affairs researcher, told representatives from Connecticut that the BIA was "bewildered" by their request to hold the meeting at all.

Instead of the meeting like the one held on Monday and Tuesday, the BIA has been recommending and encouraging the use of informal meetings to discuss the the Eastern Pequot and Paucatuck Eastern Pequot petitions. The tribes have taken advantage of that opportunity, but, so far, the state has not.

Instead, Daniel Schaefer, state Assistant Attorney General, reiterated the need for a meeting in which all comments go on the public record.

At the same time, Schaefer attempted to prevent John Brown, tribal preservation officer of the Narragansett tribe of Rhode Island, from making certain comments. At one point when Brown began speaking, Schaefer interrupted him, saying Thomas was cutting into the state's time.

Brown objected to Schaefer's assertion and proceeded to make his statement on how leaders from the two Pequot tribes have attended traditional gatherings of the Narragansett tribe for many years. The Narragansett tribe has been designated an interested party by the Department of Interior regarding the two tribes, apparently unbeknownst to Schaefer.

During a break, Brown showed Schaefer a letter designating the tribe as an interested party.

With Attorney General Richard Blumenthal absent, Schaefer took the lead role in probing DeMarce and George Roth, another BIA researcher, on their analyses of the Pequot petitions. He focused much of the questioning on whether or not the petitioners actually descend from the historic Pequot tribe, in light of documents suggesting key Pequot ancestors were of "conflicting" ethnic identities.

DeMarce responded by saying one can find Indians listed as black, colored, mulatto, or other ethnicities, at various points in their lives. But none of that evidence negates state reports and US Census counts which list the key ancestors as members of the Eastern Pequot tribe, she said.

Ed. Note: John Brown was mistakenly identified as Matthew Thomas, Chief Sachem of the Narragansett Tribe.

Roth added that Native Americans aren't always identified consistently, even in contemporary times. He specifically pointed to evidence that, as children, Eastern Pequot tribal members were subject to bias if they asserted their Indian ancestry.

DeMarce also reminded participants that the BIA does not impose blood quantum requirements on any federally recognized tribe, nor any petitioning tribe. Through questioning, the state appeared to suggest that the presence of Narragansett blood in the Eastern Pequot tribe made certain ancestors less Pequot.

As she did on Tuesday, DeMarce yesterday criticized a report submitted by the towns, claiming their researchers misrepresented the genealogy of a key Eastern Pequot ancestor.

With the meeting now concluded, many questions on the state's agenda remain unanswered. Although Schaefer has suggested another formal meeting be held, the BIA would ultimately decide if they have the time and resources to hold another formal meeting.

Relevant Links:
Connecticut Attorney General's Office -
Media Advisory, Pequot Meeting (includes map of location) -
The Bureau of Indian Affairs -
Eastern Pequot Preliminary Recognition -
Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Preliminary Recognition -

Related Stories:
BIA: Towns not reliable (Tribal Law 8/9)
BIA meeting to focus on recognition (Tribal Law 8/4)
Town: Gover a 'mockery' (The Talking Circle 05/25)
Gover wants BIA out of nastiness (Tribal Law 5/25)
Key Provisions of the Indian Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act of 1999 (Tribal Law 5/25)
BIA eases recognition process (Tribal Law 5/22)

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