Relations Between Indian Tribes and Non-Indian Communities in Other States

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.

Betty Perkowski


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

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.

Betty Perkowski 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.

Betty Perkowski


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 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.

ON the WEB - Indian Claim related web sites   by Dick Tallcot    Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc.; P.O. Box 24; Union Springs, NY 13160     Cayuga land claim.  See News - toward bottom of list "This Land is Whose Land" then the next  site       CT Indian Affairs: A Matter of Trust.    Lists politicians that pushed through a negotiated settlement that now work for the Indians.       Hawaii - Aloha for All.  Aloha is for everyone.  All citizens of Hawaii, whatever their ancestry, are entitled to the equal protection of the laws.  Special entitlements based on race or ancestry are not equal protection and are not Aloha.  1993 finalized "settlement" of $130 million.  1994 they sued for more plus the land.  Still fighting it.
e-mail Bill Burgess at    Canada - Ontario Federation for Individual Rights and Equality:    One Nation - One set of laws.  Equal Rights for All.  Lawful settlements.  Compensation for loss.    New York - Oneida Indian Land Claim Victims.  Mike & Debbie Gaiser    Land Claim Ground Zero - Verona, New York    Oneida County, NY web site.   Land claim information.    The Completely Unofficial Oneida Indian Land Claim Website   
Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc.; Wampsville, NY    Oneida, NY land claim    THIS is the law New York allegedly violated when the Indians sold their lands to the state starting in 1795.  Section 8 applies to land transactions.  If U.S. representatives were not present, it was a MISDEMEANOR and the person doing the negotiating could be fined up to $1,000 and imprisoned up to 12 months.    Indian land claims settlements  (none are final )   US Code Sec. 233: Jurisdiction of New York State courts in civil actions    US Code 25 Sec. 232:  Jurisdiction of New York State over offenses committed on reservations within State.      Canada - Chatham Kent Community Network.  Secret negotiations to create a 4,500 reservation discovered.
Minnesota - Native American Press / Ojibwe News    Exposes tribal corruptions    Montana - Dying in Indian Country "We have to get passed the idea that American Indians must forever be looked as victims.  I, for one, refuse to be viewed that way any longer."  "Government dependence is killing people."  "Tribal governments have become corrupt with unchecked power and money."  - Roland Morris Sr.  Full blood Anishinabe American citizen. 
"According to my father, who escaped from Germany in 1938, people stood at the sidelines not wanting to get involved."  "The point is, freedoms were being taken away from people a little at a time and those that were not affected stood back and looked the other way.  They had their family and jobs to take care of.  They didn't like the uncomfortable feelings controversy brought.  Sound familiar?"  - Mrs. Roland Morris 
It's hard for tribal members on reservations that have been raised and educated there to speak against feelings of family and friends, to stand against tribal governments when the tribal government holds all the strings (your house, your job, etc.) but can't be held accountable.  If you leave you leave with the shirt on your back and try to get a job in a market with few or none competing with sometimes hostile people resentful of the separate and unequal wedge that Congress has created.    National - Citizens Equal Rights Alliance CERA's mission:  Federal policies currently deny millions of people living on or near Indian reservations their full Constitutional rights.  It is CERA's mission to advocate equal protection of the law so that this nation of many cultures, may be one people, living under one system of laws.     Oregon - No Casino Main    Guess what?  You CAN shut 'em down if the Governor is on your side      Washington State - Seattle Times article June 17, 1999.  State Supreme Court overturns Appellate court decision.  Criminal charges reinstated against an Indian shooting two elk out of season and for hunting while his state license was revoked (evidently for other violations).  Supreme Justice Guy agreed with arguments that hunting rights were intended to diminish as settlers moved west.  often has Indian related articles because of the problems they have with reservations and water rights.        Money Laundering Through Casinos      Washington - United Property Owners of Washington.  Site under construction -  66,000 members    North Central Idaho Jurisdictional Alliance.  An alliance of government entities defending members and citizens against the ever expanding claims oft he Nez Perce tribe to jurisdiction and property.    CNN World News  May '97: Aborigines fight for Australian land they say is theirs.  Aboriginal leaders are accusing the Australian government of declaring war by abolishing their claims to native lands.    The New Australian - Land Rights: the New Racism.  "The High Court has launched itself on an ideological walkabout without route or destiny.  If our nation is to progress materially, raise our standard of living, extend our expectation of life, and compete internationally, something must happen.  Australia will have to ruthlessly shrug off the burden of permanently appointed senile juristic philosophers.  The High Court majority's recent embrace of a misty Rousseau-ism is not merely intellectually humiliating and embarrassing.  It does not merely, in an almost fascistic way, install racial categories in our constitutional black-box, and create a downunder version of apartheid.  It is a gratuitous and foolish blockage to our moving forward as a modern nation-state.  The High Court's embrace of neo-Jean-Jacquerie is not just a shame, but a crime."   United States Constitution    Link to the Bill of Rights   Daily access to newspapers all over the country 
Forums:  this web site 4/2000 is NOT running a forum now
There is opposition to the seeds of freedom below    Native American Consultation Database  NACD: Indian land areas judicialy established 1978   (MAP) Prepared by the United States Geological Survey in 1978 and reissued in 1993.  Continental US map showing results of cases before the Indian Land Claims Commission in which original tribal occupancy was proved.    (MAP)  and report published in June '92 for the Legacy Resource Management Program as part of the Native American and Settler Communities Project.  Indian Land Areas Judicially Established 1978    Indian Claims Commission Discussion Groups.  "This site is a forum where people interested in Indian claims can exchange information.  Where appropriate, we will respond."  "Links will provide information on what the Indian Claims Commission has said about a given topic."  [This all sounds good - but it's a pro-claim Indian site.]    LEGIX is an American Indian Lobbying firm.    Washington - Sept. 99 - Tax & Economic update: ... (tribal)  They're after Senator Gorton for several things including a bill prohibiting the Dept. of Interior from accepting land into trust for a tribe.     Washington - Salmon Recovery.  Regarding initiative 696.  A tribal perspective.  What obviously leaks out is that since the Boldt decision commercial fishing has been reduced by 90 percent.  The salmon industry was devastated.     Nevada - proposition 5    These guys are against a group called "Coalition Against Unregulated Gambling" that they claim are anti-Indian because Indian casinos would have comply with the same rules and regulations their competitors do.  They imply they can't do that.    Minnesota - The Anti-Treaty Movement: The latest, racist rage against Native Americans    The Anti-Indian Movement      Lists 18 groups they claim are racist including two groups we know of that have several Indians involved that think all Americans should be equal.  Remember when if you were born here you were a Native American?  There appears to be a push to change the meaning of equality to mean racist.  Was it Hitler that promoted the "big lie" theory - if you tell it often enough people will begin to believe it?    Washington - Center for World Indigenous Studies.  Anti-Indian Movement Part II    More of the same and a few more groups listed.  Oddly they point out "Activists have formed small groups on and near Indian reservations."    More Anti-Indian Comments in C-News.  Nov. '96  Re: Alaska - [They actually printed their opposition's letter].  "There were no Indian wars in Alaska, so legislation that set up native rights have been contained in the Statehood Compact.  In 1971 the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act transferred $500 million from the feds, $500 million from the state and 44 million acres to the 220+ tribes up here.  In return the tribes all agreed to give up aboriginal rights and be Alaskans. "The lure of special treatment and special rights has been too great for some and they have proceeded down the path of litigation in an attempt to get through the judiciary what Congress has not legislated." 
[The 44 million acres is free from state and local taxation.  Alaska became a state in 1959.  In Tee-Hit Ton vs. United States, 1955, the Supreme Court ruled they didn't have to be paid anything. Negotiated final settlements are never "final".  Local Democrats there are promising more Indian country in exchange for votes.]



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