Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
Tribal leader disputes 'offensive' editorial
OCTOBER 3, 2000
A recent editorial published in two Connecticut newspapers has drawn the concern of the Eastern Pequot Tribe, a state-recognized tribe who has been fighting to gain federal recognition since 1978.
In his editorial, Chris Powell, managing editor of The Manchester Journal Inquirer, stated that gaming has driven what he calls "contrived tribes" to seek federal recognition. Powell says no tribes existed until gaming became a driving force in Indian Country.
"The people who formed what now call themselves tribes in Connecticut were fully part of society, and their tribes have been reconstituted or embellished only for the casino privilege," wrote Powell. "Otherwise the tribes would have no more need for federal recognition than a garden club."
Although Powell didn't mention any tribe by name, one leader is already speaking out against his claims. Mary Sebastian, chairwoman of the Eastern Pequot tribe is disputing Powell's recollection of recent history.
"What may seem like an explosion in recognition applications in actuality reflects efforts that have been ongoing for decades. The Eastern Pequot Indians of Connecticut filed their letter of intent in 1978," said Sebastian. "Our battle for recognition began long before casinos and the Indian Gaming Act."
The tribe has been state-recognized since the 1683 with the establishment of their reservation. And like most other non-federally acknowledged tribes, the Eastern Pequot began petitioning for federal recognition with the establishment of guidelines in 1978.
Before then, obtaining recognition was an even more complex process than it is today. Tribes like the Pokagon Potawatomi were denied acknowledgment based on an arbitrary decision on their location in the lower half of Michigan, while others, like the Little Shell Chippewa of Montana, were ignored due to a leader's refusal to sell his tribe's land to the government.
For the Eastern Pequot tribe, who received preliminary acknowledgment in April, recognition has been in the works a long time. But housing, health, and cultural preservation, not gaming, have kept the tribe fighting, says Sebastian.
The sentiment is one echoed by others in Indian Country, including Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. In June, he spoke about the controversial nature of federal recognition and its connection to the advent of gaming.
"The Mashantucket and both the Pequot groups [The Paucatuck Eastern Pequot and the Eastern Pequot], as well as the Mohegan and the Maine tribes put in their applications well before Indian gaming was around. That was not the motive for recognition," said Gover. "Twenty years ago, they sought an IHS clinic, a BIA school, BIA scholarships."
Copyright © Indianz.Com 2000.
The stereotype here is that all Indians are in it for the money these days. The facts would seem to contradict the stereotype, at least in this case.
The facts about Indian gaming
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