The North Stonington No Annexation Group began in February of 1993 when some of us were at North Stonington (CT)Town Hall on another matter and heard about the Mashantucket Pequot's application to the BIA to annex 247 acres of Ledyard, Preston and North Stonington.
We found out that the neighboring town of Ledyard, CT had learned the hard way what annexation was about two months earlier when 20 acres of a Foxwoods Casino employee parking lot were annexed - removed from the town's tax rolls- AND Ledyard's Zoning Enforcement Officer was evicted from the site where he was attempting to serve a Cease and Desist Order for the tribe's non-compliance with zoning regulations.
How can this be, we asked , that town land can be removed from its jurisdiction by a bureaucracy in Washington D.C.? And this is being done with full approval of the federal government but without a public hearing- no public input at all. There was just a notice to the town assessor that some land will now become Trust Land, please verify the acreage, parcel no. etc.
In North Stonington , which has a proud tradition of Town Meeting government, we take democracy seriously. We, the people, are the legislative branch of the town government. We were not about to let the BIA redraw the boundaries of our town. After annexation the town would still have all the same needs it always had, and more, but there would be a smaller tax base to pay for those needs. In other words, the owners of the world's largest casino gets a tax exemption and the average North Stonington taxpayer has to pay more to make up for it.
The BIA said this "taking of land into trust" would happen in 30 days and we could send comments to the BIA regional office but that this is a normal administrative procedure that happens all the time. In other words - get used to it.
A number of us gathered at Madeline Jeffery's farm and decided we had to quickly educate ourselves about Indian law and educate the town as well - all in a few weeks!
We organized a Rally that was attended by about 500 people ( in a town of 4700 during basketball playoffs ) and every TV station from New Haven to Providence. We had a MAP showing the land proposed for annexation. We had our State Senator and State Representative plus staff from our Congressional representative. We even had a huge cake in the shape of our town to demonstrate how annexation changes the tax base as each piece of town is eaten away. We had a Register of Opposition for people to sign which was sent to the Deartment of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. We did all we could to attract the attention of Washington, to let them know that we were not going to accept this quietly.
We learned that in order to be taken into trust (annexed) , certain requirements had to be met. One was showing a tribe needed the land for economic self-sufficiency! The Mashantucket Pequot tribe of about 200 people was making hundreds of millions of dollars from its Foxwoods Casino .We were three small towns with a combined budget of about 35 million. Something was definitely wrong and we were intent on righting it.
We learned about the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. We learned the BIA's criteria for annexation. We learned about the importance of contiguity, the 1988 Indian Gaming Act and that the Mashantucket Pequots had become federally recognized by an Act of Congress after being refused recognition by the BIA and that Ronald Reagan had vetoed the first bill to recognize them.
Over the past seven years we have stood firm as the Voice For No-Annexation in North Stonington with countless meetings and mailings. We wrote the referendum that prevents town leaders from cutting any deals regarding annexation, keeping our towns intact. We supported the three towns when they and Attorney General Blumenthal filed suit against the BIA for granting the annexation despite overwhelming opposition.
We have kept active whenever a land use might involve the possibility of annexation.
And now that there seem to be irregularities between the Act of Congress that created the Mashantucket Pequot tribe and the MAP delineating the reservation we feel we must again act and give voice to the thousands of residents who feel helpless when their own federal government seems out of control.
That is why we are taking the time out of our very busy lives to do this petition and website. We love our town and feel it is up to the people of North Stonington to take care of it, not the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
We don't have a full time lobbyist in Washington like the tribe does so we are working with what we have - strength in numbers. Strength in Votes.
© Copyright 2002 North Stonington No-Annexation Group
For more information contact Betty Perkowski firstname.lastname@example.org