Moonface Bear

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) - May 24, 1996

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Deceased Name: MOONFACE BEAR, 35, LED STANDOFF ON RESERVATION

Moonface Bear, a Golden Hill Paugussett Indian who led a faction of that Connecticut tribe in an armed standoff with state officials in 1993, becoming for a time a symbol of American Indian defiance of authority, died on Tuesday in a hospital in Norwich, Conn. He was 35.

The cause was leukemia, aggravated by Lyme disease, said his brother Quiet Hawk, the Paugussett's council chief.

The 13-week standoff on the tribe's reservation in Colchester in 1993 was ostensibly over the sale of untaxed cigarettes, but it was more than that. Moonface Bear, also known as Kenneth Piper, said he could sell tax-free cigarettes under the power of tribal sovereignty.

The state, the federal government and his own tribal leadership all agreed that the Paugussetts did not have that power.

The federal government has not recognized the Paugussetts as a sovereign nation, a status that allows tribes to create on their lands tax-free businesses such as tobacco and gasoline sales and casino gambling. Moonface Bear said those were innate sovereign rights, there to be claimed by Indians, not granted by outsiders.

His cause drew several dozen people from around the country. At the height of the tension, they created an armed camp in the Connecticut woods, with a makeshift lookout tower where guards with rifles watched for the siege they thought would come.

Moonface Bear, who claimed for himself the title of tribal war chief, surrendered when he realized the situation was out of his control and spinning toward violence, his brother said. He was represented in early legal proceedings by William Kunstler, the civil rights lawyer.

After years of legal argument, a judge in Connecticut ordered just last week that Moonface Bear stand trial on charges related to the standoff: the sale of 20,000 unstamped cigarettes and interfering with police business. He entered the hospital Friday, Quiet Hawk said, after struggling privately with his illnesses for some time.

"He thought he was right and everybody was wrong," said Quiet Hawk, also known as Aurelius H. Piper Jr. "He always had a difference of opinion, whether with his father or anybody else who might disagree with him; that was his nature."

Moonface Bear was one of six children of the Paugussett's chief, Big Eagle. He grew up just outside Bridgeport, on the one-quarter-acre remnant that remained of the tribe's reservation in Trumbull, but was sent by his father to live on tribe-owned lands in the eastern part of the state in the early 1980s.

From there, Moonface Bear watched as the nearby Mashantucket Pequot Indians, who he believed had been as scattered by history as the Paugussetts, rose to vast wealth and power as owners of Foxwoods Casino.

Because the Paugussetts had intermarried in the black community over the years and had lost most of their Indian culture after decades of being scattered and urbanized, he said racism was partly what held his own tribe back.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL) Date: May 24, 1996 Edition: FINAL Page: 6B Record Number: 9605230550 Copyright (c) 1996, Sun-Sentinel Company. All rights reserved.

Rocky Mountain News (CO) - May 25, 1996 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Deceased Name: AMERICAN INDIAN MILITANT DIES AT 35 Moonface Bear, a Golden Hill Paugussett Indian who led a faction of that Connecticut tribe in an armed standoff with state officials in 1993 - becoming for a time a symbol of American Indian defiance of authority - died Tuesday in a hospital in Norwich, Conn. He was 35. The cause was leukemia, aggravated by Lyme disease, said his brother Quiet Hawk, the Paugussetts' council chief. The 13-week standoff that occurred on the tribe's reservation in Colchester in 1993 was ostensibly over the sale of untaxed cigarettes, but it was more than that. Moonface Bear, also known as Kenneth Piper, claimed he could sell tax-free cigarettes under the power of tribal sovereignty. The state, the federal government and his own tribal leadership all agreed that the Paugussetts did not possess that power. The federal government has not recognized the Paugussetts as a sovereign nation, a status that allows tribes to create on their lands tax-free enterprises such as tobacco and gasoline sales and casino gambling. Moonface Bear argued that those were innate sovereign rights, there to be claimed by Indians, not granted by outsiders. His cause drew several dozen people from around the country. At the height of the tension, they created an armed camp in the Connecticut woods, with a makeshift lookout tower where guards with rifles watched for the siege they believed would come. Moonface Bear, who claimed the title of tribal war chief for himself, surrendered when he realized the situation was out of his control and spinning toward violence, his brother said. He was represented in early legal proceedings by William Kunstler, the civil rights lawyer. After years of legal argument, a judge in Connecticut ordered just last week that Moonface Bear stand trial on charges related to the standoff: selling 20,000 unstamped cigarettes and interfering with police business. He entered the hospital Friday after struggling privately with his illnesses for some time, Quiet Hawk said. ''He thought he was right and everybody was wrong,'' said Quiet Hawk, also known as Aurelius H. Piper Jr. ''He always had a difference of opinion, whether with his father or anybody else who might disagree with him; that was his nature.'' Moonface Bear was one of six children of the Paugussetts' chief, Big Eagle. He grew up just outside Bridgeport on the quarter-acre remnant that remained of the tribe's reservation in Trumbull, but his father sent him to live on tribe-owned lands in the eastern part of the state in the early 1980s. From there, Moonface watched as the nearby Mashantucket Pequot Indians, who he believed had been as scattered by history as the Paugussetts, rose to vast wealth and power as owners of Foxwoods Casino. Because the Paugussetts had intermarried with blacks over the years and had lost most of their Indian culture after decades of being scattered and urbanized, he contended that racism was partly what held his own tribe back. Moonface Bear is survived by his wife, Misty, of Colchester, Conn., and a daughter, Pretty Pony, and a son, Kicking Bear, both of New York City. LIB5 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Rocky Mountain News (CO) Date: May 25, 1996 Edition: Final Page: 15B Record Number: 9605280042 Copyright (c) 1996 Rocky Mountain News

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