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Schaghticoke Native American Tribe seeks federal recognition, worrying some in neighboring Kent

Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Kent, Connecticut

The Kent-based Schaghticoke Native American Tribe hopes to achieve federal recognition as an American Indian tribe. But, the town of Kent has concerns.

The Schaghticoke filed a petition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to become recognized in 2020. If approved, federally recognized tribes are entitled to receive federal benefits, funding, services and protection.

Jean Speck, the Kent First Selectwoman, said tribal acknowledgement will permit the tribe a right to self-government over its land without regard to the laws of Kent and the state.

Kent officials pointed to the federal recognition of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation who built a casino. Officials said those kinds of establishments could have a significant impact on the small town.

A business manager of the tribe said the Schaghticoke Tribe has no plans to change the nature of Kent but to trade their land claims for more suitable land for business.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.