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Anti-Pequot politicians will appeal recognition

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HARTFORD, Conn. ? Opponents of recognition for the Historic Eastern Pequot tribe ended weeks of suspense Sept. 12 by announcing an appeal of the BIA's June 24 decision to acknowledge the 1100-member tribe.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and two neighboring towns said they would request reconsideration, of recognition before the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (IBIA), delaying recognition until the appeal process is completed.

The appeal was not totally a surprise but it showed some attrition in the ranks of the anti-Pequot towns. North Stonington and Preston, joined the Attorney General, but Ledyard, the third of the state's anti-recognition triad was conspicuously absent.

Leaders of the Historic Eastern Pequots, a union of two separate applicants for recognition, were unavailable for comment on the announcement, which came just before press time. But Marcia Flowers, chairwoman of the Eastern Pequots and James Cunha, chairman of the Paucatuck Eastern Pequots, told Indian Country Today earlier in a joint interview that they felt the BIA recognition report was so strong that it would withstand any challenge. The councils of the two tribes are currently deliberating on a unified constitution.

In a statement announcing the appeal, Blumenthal denounced the BIA recognition process, which is currently also under attack by Connecticut members of Congress.

"The federal recognition decision seems to defy fairness, law, and fact," Blumenthal said. "The BIA finding, if allowed to stand, could have far-reaching ramifications across Connecticut and the country by providing support for other deficient tribal petitions.

"The BIA recognition decision is impugned by serious irregularities and improprieties that are directly demonstrated by investigations done by the GAO and Interior Department Inspector General. The recognition process is overtly political and deeply flawed, and it must be reformed," Blumenthal said. "I am pleased that both Connecticut U.S. Senators have now joined my long-standing call for a moratorium on tribal recognition until this system can be fundamentally revamped."