© 2024 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Mohegan Tribe submits bid on St. Bernard School property

A sign overgrown with brush advertises land for sale.
John Bazemore
A sign overgrown with brush advertises land for sale.

The Mohegan Tribe has submitted the highest bid to acquire a 113-acre property which includes the site of the former St. Bernard School. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich announced it would auction the Montville property after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July 2021.

The Diocese set the auction of the property with a minimum required bid of $6.5 million. Bids were required to be submitted before the May 26 deadline. The Mohegan Tribe did not say how much they bid.

James Gessner, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, said the site being auctioned has historical significance for the tribe. The location includes the site of a former school that was built on Mohegan’s historical lands.

Gessner said the tribe will not develop the surrounding land for commercial or gaming purposes. But it will ensure educational opportunities for current and future generations.

“The Mohegan Tribe's bid to reacquire this historically significant land that was home to our ancestors is centered on ensuring uninterrupted educational opportunities for students, while also preserving our tribe’s cultural heritage for future generations,” Gessner said.

The tribe said it plans to host cultural and educational events on the property, which won't conflict with the school's activities. It will provide a long-term lease to St. Bernard School at a cost of one dollar per year.

“Through a long-term lease to St. Bernard School and the protection of tribal homelands for tribal purposes over commercial development, this is a plan that will safeguard both the future of the school and our ancestral homelands,” Gessner said. “Our bid is competitive, our interest is genuine, and we believe that we are the ideal choice given our longstanding partnerships with the State of Connecticut and this local community.”

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.