BIA meeting centers on history
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AUGUST 7, 2000

A Bureau of Indian Affairs meeting discussing the federal recognition petitions of the Eastern Pequot and Paucatuck Eastern Pequot Tribes of Connecticut will focus primarily on the tribes' history, not genealogy.

The two-day affair, which begins tomorrow, will bring together members of the BIA's Bureau of Acknowledgement and Research (BAR), representatives of the tribes, and local and state officials from Connecticut. They will be joined by their lawyers as well as members of the media.

The questions being posed to the BAR have been presented to them in a series of documents written by the towns of Ledyard, North Stonington, and Preston over the recent months.

BAR employees, who include anthropologists, genealogists, historians, and social scientists, have pored over hundreds of pages of documents in order to establish the primary points of contention regarding the two tribes. The two tribes have been state-recognized since the 1600s and have resided on the Lantern Hill Reservation in southeastern Connecticut ever since.

That long history is the central focus of the two-day affair. In the preliminary decision to extend federal recognition, the tribes' historical and continuous relationship with the state have been cited as factors favoring their case.

On Tuesday, the BIA will spend much of the day discussing the historical record. The general issue of community and political influence, a mandatory recognition criterion, of the Eastern Pequot Tribe from 1883 to the 1973 will be considered.

The year 1973 is an important date in Pequot recent history. It is cited as the date at which the Eastern Pequot tribe and the Paucatuck Eastern tribe began operating as separate political entities, which the BIA considers important in deciding to recognize the tribes as two or as one.

On Wednesday, the BIA will delve more deeply into the issue of community and political influence. Several time periods from 1883 to the present are the areas which the towns and the state have raised in their opposition to extending federal recognition.

The meeting, which lasts all day each day, isn't the first of its kind in the BIA's history of recognizing tribes. The Quinault Nation of Washington opposed granting federal recognition to the Cowlitz Tribe and a similar meeting was held to discuss the Cowlitz petition.

After a long fight and reams of documentation, the Cowlitz received final recognition in May.

A long battle appears to await the two Pequot tribes as well. Although the official comment period as established by federal regulations ends September 27, a final determination won't come until next year, and even then, the tribes have to wait for full implementation.

A preliminary finding of federal recognition, which the tribes received in March, has never been overturned, according to BIA documents. However, a negative finding has been turned into a positive, which occurred when the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut received recognition in 1984.

Relevant Links:
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 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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