Is It Really About More Connecticut Casinos, or Is IT Just Plain Arrogance?

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like to talk politics, because….well……I don’t like politics. But,  the turmoil the Bureau of Indian Affairs’s new proposal for tribal acknowledgment is causing in Connecticut bothers me from many points of view. Is economics really what worries us, or is it tied into a deeper bigotry & jealousy influenced by what we have actually created.

Proposed rule changes that Native American groups say could help bring more casinos to Connecticut are coming under criticism from the state’s congressional delegation, which argues that the U.S. Interior Department is watering down the criteria for granting federal recognition to tribes.

In a letter sent to the department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the state’s two senators and five House representatives wrote that the proposed changes would significantly affect state residents. The governor and local leaders in towns that host state reservations are also opposing the proposals, which could renew long-simmering battles over land claims by making it easier for local tribes to win acknowledgment.

The CT delegation argues Connecticut appears to be singled out unfairly, citing a proposal to require that tribes demonstrate continuity only since 1934 give Indian groups a pass on other requirements for acknowledgment. Connecticut of the few to have had state reservation lands in existence since 1934.

If approved, the changes could benefit three other Connecticut tribes _ the Schaghticokes of Kent, the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Trumbull and Colchester and the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington. Federal acknowledgment can bolster a tribe’s claims to surrounding land, eliminate regulatory barriers to commercial development and bring increased health and education benefits to members.

We worry about casino saturation in CT because of Massachusetts and their gambling proposals – and now THIS! Here’s a little story from the twisted imagination of one blogger that over simplifies to the point of ridiculousness – but maybe borders on the real truth. (cue “Twilight Zone” theme music…….)

Once upon a time, in neighborhood A, a group of three families lived happy together for years. Neighborhood B, also having three families, move into Neighborhood A for their own “personal” reasons. But instead of joining “A,” they took over the neighborhood, buying the other houses except for one. Neighborhood B now calls the area, well, “NEIGHBORHOOD B!” And what happened to the original “A” families? – all of neighbor A families are told to stay in one house in the now “NEIGHBORHOOD B.” “NEIGHBORHOOD B” tells them “We don’t care what you do in there, but don’t come out into our neighborhood.”

Over the years, the three A families (now much smaller) create a restaurant that attracts neighborhood families from far away, helping the three families to survive in their little house. “NEIGHBORHOOD B” doesn’t like that – besides, “B” decided long ago that restaurants were a bad way to feed their “B” families.

But the restaurants are so popular, that “NEIGHBORHOOD B”, frustrated by the situation they created, gets together and physically moves two of the three families from their tiny reservation, (oops), I mean tiny house A (notice how the “A” house seemingly got smaller over time!) to other neighborhoods outside “NEIGHBORHOOD B.” Once again, “B” says, “”We don’t care what you do out there, but don’t come into our neighborhoods. Stay in your reservation, (oops again, I mean house.)”

More restaurants flourish. But then times get hard, and too many restaurants are built. Neighbor A & B feel the pinch, and neighborhood B says “NO MORE RESTAURANTS!” But all the struggling family A members reply, “Hey, you made up these rules. We could have done this together, but you took over our neighborhood, and put us on tiny house to fend for ourselves. You set the whole thing up!”

Unfortunately, I have no ending. There is no ending.

The real question here is – “Is the problem the CT legislation and CT communities have with the BIA’s new proposal really rooted in consideration for all, or does it all come from the arrogance in treating a native people badly 400 years ago and then finding them succeeding under the rules our system put upon them?”

That’s all for now….but I’m sure this is just the beginning. Stay tuned.