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Connecticut Leaders Renew Effort to Block Tribal Casino

10 February 2004

DANBURY, Connecticut – As reported by the Hartford Courant: "Elected leaders from across the state assembled in Danbury Monday night to renew their effort to block a small band of Indians from opening a casino in western Connecticut.

"It won't be easy, since the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has won final approval as a federal tribe from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Overturning federal tribal recognition is extremely rare and requires opponents to produce new information in an evidence-gathering process that has already gone on for years.

"'I hope that this is the beginning of a citizens' movement,' said Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is leading opposition to recognition of new tribes and more casinos in Connecticut. Blumenthal, who said the state will appeal the Schaghticoke ruling, also is fighting the bureau's recognition of the Eastern Pequots of North Stonington.

"Both tribal groups are backed by wealthy businessmen who want to invest in Connecticut's next Foxwoods Resort or Mohegan Sun, considered two of the world's most profitable casinos.

"…Four members of the state's congressional delegation - who have thus far offered casino opponents little hope - Monday asked for a congressional hearing to investigate the 'influence of outside interests, especially wealthy gaming interests, on the process of Native American tribes.'

"…Monday evening's meeting featured a panel of more than a dozen elected officials from towns fighting federal recognition of the Schaghticokes. Not everyone in the audience of about 150 was opposed to the idea of a new federal Indian tribe.

"…Schaghticoke member Robert Morange, who sat with other tribal members in the audience during the two-hour program, said he found the discussion one-sided…"

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