Malloy expresses opposition to changes in tribal recognition process

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday delivered a letter to President Barack H. Obama expressing opposition to certain revisions to tribal recognition rules being considered by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs.

State and local leaders have come out against the changes, maintaining they would water down the criteria for granting federal recognition to tribes.

If approved, the changes could benefit three Connecticut tribes — the Schaghticokes of Kent, the Golden Hill Paugussetts of Trumbull and Colchester and the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington.

"For Connecticut, the consequences would be devastating," Malloy said in his letter. "The petitioning groups have filed or threatened land claims to vast areas of fully developed land in Connecticut. Such claims can cloud the title to real property in the claimed area, causing significant economic hardship to Connecticut residents."

In a letter sent to the BIA in August, the state's two senators and five representatives said Connecticut appears to be singled out, citing a proposal to give Indian groups a pass on other requirements for recognition as long as some descendants have lived on a state reservation since 1934.

"Research from the Connecticut Attorney General's office indicates that only Connecticut has had state reservation lands in existence since 1934," the federal lawmakers said in their letter.

Kevin Washburn, an assistant Interior secretary for Indian affairs, has said the goal is to ensure the process is fair, efficient and transparent.

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