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Mashantuckets, Interior sign lease agreement for tribe's public safety building

Mashantucket — An agreement signed last week calls for the U.S. Department of the Interior to compensate the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe through a lease of the tribe’s public safety building, which houses the tribe’s police and fire departments and tribal court.

The departments housed in the building provide services under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, which allowed tribes to assume certain functions previously performed by the federal government. The Mashantuckets have had longstanding contracts with the Department of the Interior and the Indian Health Service to provide such services.

In a virtual ceremony Wednesday, Rodney Butler, the Mashantucket chairman, and Tara Sweeney, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, signed one of the first so-called Section 105(l) lease agreements between a tribe and the U.S. government. The signing took place virtually due to travel restrictions prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the lease, the Interior Department will provide funding for costs associated with the Mashantuckets’ administration and delivery of law enforcement services, community fire protection and tribal court services. Terms of the lease were not disclosed.

“The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation is proud to be one of the initial participants in the Department of the Interior’s Section 105(l) leasing program under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, and the first tribal nation to enter into a lease as a Title I contracting tribe,” Butler said in a statement. “The lease of our public safety facility is the type of self-determination partnership between tribal nations and the department that was envisioned 45 years ago this month when the ISDEAA was enacted.”

The signing marked the third Section 105(l) lease Interior has signed with tribal governments and the first in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Eastern Region. In July 2019, the department signed an agreement with the Gila River Indian Community in Arizona for a U.S. Bureau of Indian Education-funded school facility on its reservation, and in October 2019, the department signed an agreement with Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota for the operation and maintenance of the tribe’s criminal justice complex.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

 

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