Copyright 2000 (c) Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved
I have received e-mails from elsewhere in the United States regarding the relationships between Indian tribes and the non-Indian communities near them. Many people have horror stories to tell, and in some communities thousands of people have joined forces to oppose tribal recognition or to oppose continuing demands from recognized tribes for more land and power. There are constant lawsuits, and land titles clouded by newly filed Indian claims even in communities in Eastern states that have been settled for 200 years. States and communities are powerless to prevent abuses by Indian tribes, which exercise sovereignty and enjoy direct relationships with the Federal government rather than with their neighboring communities and states.
First is some correspondence from Betty Perkowski of North Stonington, Connecticut. After that is an extensive list of internet websites assembled by community groups, and other resources regarding the relationships between Indian tribes, non-Indian communities, and states.
There is an excellent book about the laws governing the relationships between Indian tribes and local, state, and federal governments. The book has a great deal of technical information about legal decisions, and the history of the constantly changing trends in Indian law since the founding of the United States. The book can be understood by non-lawyers, and provides an outstanding introduction to many topics for community leaders and attorneys who need to do further research. People who think that Indian tribe status will resolve the sovereignty problem and produce a financial windfall for Hawai’i should think again. The mere existence of the book should be a wake-up call to the legislators of the State of Hawai’i, the Congressional delegation, and the people. Horrendous problems will descend upon Hawai’i if tribal status is granted. Some of those problems are discussed in this book. The author is Senior Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. William C. Canby, Jr., “American Indian Law in a nutshell,” third ed., West Group, St. Paul, Minn., 1998.
*** e-mail regarding Indian tribes in Connecticut ***
A day after posting on this website a letter to the State legislators opposing a resolution to support federal recognition of tribal status for kanaka maoli, I received the following e-mail from Betty Perkowski, of North Stonington, Connecticut. She has kindly given permission to post her e-mail here. This e-mail should serve as a wakeup call to citizens of Hawai'i about the bad consequences of having newly recognized or recently revived Indian tribes in the midst of well-established communities that are predominantly non-Indian.
I am so glad to have found your website after hearing about the Supreme Court decision on Rice V. Cayetano and all the articles in the Honolulu Star Bulletin.
Tomorrow (March 24, 2000) my little town of North Stonington CT is supposed to hear from the BIA [ed. note: U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is the OHA of the Federal government] as to whether one or two local groups, they call themselves tribes, are recommended to be federally recognized.
The groups call themselves the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots and the Eastern Pequots. If the name Pequot sounds familiar it is because these groups live next door to the Mashantucket Pequots who operate the largest casino in the world right here in Connecticut. Casino gambling is illegal in Connecticut. Even Steve Wynn, who operates some of the largest casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City is not allowed to own a casino in Connecticut. However, since the BIA recognized the Mashantucket Pequots in 1983 and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, they have operated a huge gambling casino non-stop since 1992.
The local towns had no say in what was built. No public hearings, no permits no oversight at all. What we do have is 30,000 cars per day driving through our town. They don't stop and bring any economic development because they are too in a hurry to get to the slots and are too broke or tired on the way home. This casino grosses over a billion dollars per year yet pays no property taxes to the town of Ledyard in which it is located (adjacent to North Stonington). Tribal children, however do go to the local schools, the state police answer calls on the reservation (per state compact which was forced on Connecticut by a federal court). If you have a grievance with the tribe, even if it occurred off the reservation, they cannot be sued except in their own tribal court.
As if this wasn't enough, they bought land off the reservation, in three local towns -- Preston, Ledyard and North Stonington -- and applied to the BIA to annex it to the reservation. That was in 1993. Our towns were told there is no forum for public input on the issue but we insisted on being heard.
Volumes could be written on what has happened in the past 8 years but I'll be brief. In 1995 the BIA, Bruce Babbitt himself, decided in favor of the tribe. The state of CT and the three towns went to federal court in Hartford and won. The Justice Department appealed for the BIA and we await the decision.
And now we find ourselves facing the establishment of another or possibly two more tribes which is saying one or two more casinos. (Did I mention Donald Trump is funding the Paucatuck Eastern tribe's petition?)
The governor, in 1993 made a deal with the Mashantuckets. At the time they were not allowed slot machines because they were not allowed under the "Las Vegas night" law that this whole thing was based on. Gov. Weicker signed a secret deal for the tribe to give 25% of the gross slot revenue to the state. The legislature had no knowledge of this. The disbursement of the slot money is made by the legislature and the big cities get the lion's share without any of the negative effects. The small towns get peanuts and ALL the negative effects. We use the slot machine money to pay for our lawyers to fight the BIA in court.
Oh, yes. The Mashantucket blood quantum was 1/16th. The tribe, who has the say in these things changed it to anyone who is a descendent of those on the tribal rolls in 1900 and 1910. So on and on the white skinned blue-eyed Pequots and their Black skinned kinky haired cousins and everyone in between will be eligible for a piece of the pie.
There were 2 tribal members in 1976. Now there are 600, yanked out of their assimilated lives from all over the country to come on home to where they never were and learn a culture (from a hired, white anthropologist).
What ever happened to "One Nation, Indivisible"?
Sorry this is so long but the parallels between the Hawaiian situation and what we face are so similar.
On April 10, Betty Perkowski had a letter to the editor published in the Star-Bulletin, warning that tribal recognition of Native Hawaiians would lead to gambling casinos in Hawai'i. Here is what she wrote: (see the original at http://starbulletin.com/2000/04/10/editorial/letters.html)
Federal recognition will lead to casinos
I just read in my local newspaper that the town tax collector of 21 years in Ledyard, Conn. -- where the Mashantucket Pequots have their Foxwoods casino -- is being investigated for embezzlement.
Apparently up to $100,000 is unaccounted for and her "wampum card" at Foxwoods shows that she has had "gambling activity" (it doesn't separate wins and losses) of $900,000 since 1997.
A wampum card is given by the casino to gamblers to swipe through the slot machines. It keeps a tally of how much has been wagered and is useful in criminal investigations.
If you want to see stories like this in your own Honolulu newspapers in the future, go right ahead and give federal recognition to native Hawaiians. Then they can open their own casinos in the islands.
Here in Connecticut, the stories of embezzlement by gamblers frequenting the Indian casinos are commonplace -- including the little gray-haired town clerk who knew everyone in town yet stole tens of thousands to gamble.
This doesn't even touch on all the other negatives of having a "sovereign nation" answerable to no one.
North Stonington, Conn.
I replied to her by e-mail, thanking her for her letter but pointing out that the federal laws governing Indian tribes allow tribes to have casinos only when the State government permits some forms of gambling to be legal. I said that in Hawai'i the State government does not allow any form of gambling, so the door would not be open to a tribal casino. But she wrote back and said the following:
I am aware that Hawaii doesn't allow any gambling---now. But just wait until federal recognition kicks in. There will be a big push to allow some form of gambling (they'll call it "Gaming" and sing the wonders of how it will help the Natives be self sufficient) and once that genie is out of the bottle there's no putting it back in.
Our casinos are allowed because of once a year, low stake charity Las Vegas nights. The legislators didn't believe that a federal judge would say they are one and the same with full scale gambling. He said it was just a difference in scale.
A major investigative report was recently published in the form of a book showing that "Congress was essentially tricked into granting tribal status to the [Mashantucket Pequot tribe of Connecticut] -- a political process that allowed it to skirt the much more stringent recognition standards maintained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs." As a result of all the publicity this book is getting, it can be hoped that Congress will not be so easily fooled in the case of the Native Hawaiians.
The book, by Jeff Benedict, is entitled: "Without Reservation: The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and the World's Largest Casino." Here is a book review by Amazon.com editor John J. Miller.
"The Mashantucket Pequot tribe of Connecticut were nearly penniless just a couple of decades ago. Today, they are the richest tribe in America and owners of the world's largest gambling casino. And, writes Jeff Benedict, their wealth is based on a fraud. Without Reservation will remind some readers of A Civil Action, by Jonathan Harr, for its novelistic approach to nonfiction as well as its earnestness. Benedict says that Congress was essentially tricked into granting tribal status to the group -- a political process that allowed it to skirt the much more stringent recognition standards maintained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Benedict's reporting is provocative, showing, for instance, that Skip Hayward, the man who headed the tribe for many years, listed his race as "white" on the application for his first marriage license. And Benedict's narrative is character driven almost to a fault, though it makes reading about congressional hearings and backdoor politics enjoyable. There is convincing evidence on these pages that pols were duped by Hayward, first in Connecticut and then in Washington. The evidence is strong enough, in fact, to warrant formal congressional hearings on the decisions made in the 1980s to confer official status on the tribe, and perhaps even revoke that status or redirect some casino profits to poor Indians. In short, Without Reservation is the kind of book that can kick-start a controversy -- or at least amplify an existing one to the point where the need for reform becomes urgent. If the book has a weakness, it's that Benedict didn't get to interview many tribal officials. But then it's easy to see why they might avoid a man with so many hard questions. This book needed to be written, even without their cooperation." -- John J. Miller
There are many websites created by people who describe the problems faced by communities that have Indian tribal reservations in their areas. Here are some of these sites, sent to me by Dick and Connie Talcott of the Cayuga-Seneca Chapter of Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. in New York. 11,688 members and growing.
You may now
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