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An open letter to tribal leaders

Dear Tribal Leaders,

As the newly elected leader of the Eastern Pequot Indians of Connecticut, I felt compelled to write to address some of the untruths that the Connecticut Attorney General and the leaders of our surrounding non-Indian towns have been placing in non-Indian newspapers throughout the country. These stories are part of a carefully orchestrated, well funded plan to defeat the federal acknowledgment of the Eastern Pequot Tribe. This non-Indian media effort has been so well planned and so well funded that many member of Congress and the public have begun to believe some of the outrageous stories these people are spreading.

For those of you who may question the legitimacy of our efforts, ask yourself two questions: 1) Why would the Attorney General of a State and a few non-Indian town leaders spend in excess of $1 million dollars to defeat a group's recognition petition if that petition had no merit. and. 2) Why have the Attorney General of Connecticut and the leaders of the non-Indian towns surrounding our reservation gone to the lengths they have to attack the professional reputations of Kevin Gover and Michael Anderson, two of the most respected Indian lawyers in this country.

The answer to both of these questions is found in two documents: a July 31, 1991, letter from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to then Assistant Secretary Eddie Brown, and a March, 2000, letter from Blumenthal to the BIA. In the 1991 letter, Blumenthal issued a written objection to our federal acknowledgment, even though he had never seen one page of our petition or reviewed one piece of our evidence, and in the 2000 letter, he demanded the release of our petition materials on the grounds that federal acknowledgment can impact non-Indian jurisdiction over Connecticut lands, result in Indian land claims, and lead to the expansion of Indian gaming. Jurisdiction, land claims, and gaming - three words that bring out the worst in those who oppose us.

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Our history is very similar to yours. Our people lived peacefully on these shores long before the arrival of non-Indians. Originally, our relationships with these newcomers were friendly, but it did not take long before these outsiders saw our ancestors as a threat and gathered a military force to try to annihilate our people. While a sizable percentage of our people were massacred in the Pequot War, and many who were not killed were placed in captivity, our people did not give up, and within a few years they regrouped to form new Pequot communities.

Like many other Indian Bands, our ancestors were then forced from one location to another, until the non-Indian government finally settled them on a reservation, one which was totally unsuited to their needs. This same non-Indian government then took control of that land and its resources, leased our best parcels to non-Indians and sent Indian agents to oversee our affairs. Life was hard and many of our people struggled to survive, yet they clung to their identity and their culture and refused to surrender our reservation land or accept termination.

Our ancestors have held that land for four hundred years, fighting off attempts to sell off reservation lands and detribalize our people and we, like those ancestors, will not surrender the rights of our future generations. We are Eastern Pequots, and our pride in who we are and our faith in the creator continue to sustain us in our efforts.

It is unfortunate that we as Indian people still face political and media attacks when we dare to claim the rights we are assured by our creator and federal law, but our heritage and our belief in ourselves and in who and what we are will lead us through this long journey.

We Eastern Pequots thank you for your support and your prayers. We invite each and every one of you to visit our homeland and meet our people. We pledge to you that we will use every weapon in our arsenal to defend the sovereignty of the Eastern Pequots and Indian Tribes throughout this country. Please, help us stop the efforts to increase state and non-Indian involvement in the federal acknowledgment process and the government to government relationship between the United States and our Nations. If you have the opportunity, we ask you to reconfirm your support of our efforts and those of NCAI and NARF to protect our legal rights as Indian people