TRUMBULL, CT ? The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs declined to grant recognition to the Golden Hill Tribe of the Paugussett Indian Nation, citing a gap in the Tribe's 350-year genealogy. The Tribe has six months in which to remedy the technical deficiency in its application and intends to do so as soon as possible.
"This is disappointing, but we will move to fully address the technical question cited by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which deals with the period of time from 1800 to 1900," said Chief Quiet Hawk, Council Chief of the Golden Hill Tribe. "It's encouraging that the bulk of our application, some 48,000 documents covering 350 years, has withstood the scrutiny of the recognition process."
According to Chief Quiet Hawk, the Tribe remains committed to completing its bid for federal recognition.
"The Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut was initially rejected by the BIA but ultimately gained recognition," said the Chief. "This is despite the fact
that the Tribe had disbanded for about 100 years starting in 1861, had no reservation, government or recognition by the State of Connecticut. We have a much stronger application in most respects."
The Golden Hill Tribe's second priority is settling its aboriginal land claims in Connecticut, which approximate 720,000 acres in numerous cities and towns from Waterbury to Greenwich.
"Recognition and land claims are separate issues," said Chief Quiet Hawk "A Connecticut court has already ruled that our Tribe has standing to litigate our land claims with or without federal recognition. A settlement should have happened long ago, but has not because of litigation and political interference."
The Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe filed for federal recognition in April of 1982. In September 1996 the BIA declined to acknowledge the Tribe, a decision that was reversed by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. The Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe filed land claims in several towns in 1992. A District Court judge ruled that the Paugussetts had no standing to bring the claims until they were recognized by the BIA, a decision that was overturned by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1994. The Appeals Court asked the Paugussetts to voluntarily refrain from filing additional land claims for 180 days.
"This Tribe has waited patiently for the last eight years, being more than reasonable given what the Appeals Court asked for," said the Chief. "We will continue to move forward until we achieve satisfactory compensation for our aboriginal lands."
For further information, contact the tribal office at 877-809-6024.