Flowers to Speak at USET

N. STONINGTON, Conn. – Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation Chairman Marcia Flowers will be visiting the Oneida Indian Nation of New York for the first time in June as a featured speaker at the United South and Eastern Tribes’ semiannual meeting.

The meeting will take place June 5 – 8 at Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, N.Y. The Oneida Nation will host the event.

“I’ve known a lot of Oneida members over the years, but I’ve never gone to their home, so that will be good. I’m really looking forward to it,” Flowers said.

This will be Flowers’ fourth appearance at a USET conference, but the first since Columbus Day last year when Interior Associate Deputy Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs James Cason reversed the tribe’s federal acknowledgement, which was granted in 2002 by former Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Gover. The reversal followed a three-year appeal process and ferocious opposition from Connecticut officials.

“I’m still writing my speech. In the past, when we were in appeals for three years, I addressed USET on the progress of our recognition during each phase and how long it took us. I told the history of our tribe and the content of our petition, and I’ll reiterate that, and then ask for the continuing support of the USET tribes of our acknowledgement and our efforts to go forward,” Flowers said.

USET passed a resolution of support for the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation in June 2005 after the Interior Board of Indian Appeals vacated the tribe’s acknowledgement and sent it back to the BIA for “further work and reconsideration.”

The resolution states, in part, that the state of Connecticut and other opponents “appear driven not by concerns about compliance with the recognition regulations, but instead by a desire to stop the expansion of Indian gaming and prohibit future acquisition of federal trust land in Connecticut to ensure that the EPTN can never bring a claim for land against the state.”

The USET resolution “insist(s) that the BIA uphold its final decision made on June 24, 2004, that recognized the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation federal acknowledgment and not allow a state to set a new precedence for voiding a final federal decision.”

The Eastern Pequots’ reversal was also swept up in a powerful opposition to the STN’s federal acknowledgement that involved a politically connected Washington lobbyist. The Schaghticokes’ federal recognition was rescinded on the same day as that of the Eastern Pequots’.

Under a court-ordered schedule, the STN filed an administrative appeal of the reversal within 120 days, and awaits a federal judge’s decision to take up the case.

The IBIA declined to accept an appeal filed by the Eastern Pequots in January.

The tribe has seven years to file an appeal, Flowers said. “We’re doing our groundwork and reassessing. Meanwhile, the tribal council meets regularly and we meet every month with the membership. We’re still moving forward. So it’s business as usual,” Flowers said.