The Golden Hill Paugussett tribe, which maintains a small reservation in Trumbull, is making a new effort to gain federal recognition.
The tribe, which has state recognition and claims between 100 and 200 members, was rejected when it submitted a petition for recognition from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. However, the tribe faces an obstacle: Connecticut officials successfully lobbied the bureau to amend its rules in 2015 to prevent tribes from re-petitioning for recognition after being rejected by the agency. This rule change prevented Connecticut’s Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, which was granted federal recognition in 2004, but had the status revoked one year later following protests from state leaders, from reapplying to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Golden Hill Paugussett’s are represented in Washington by Steven Pruitt of the lobbying firm J.C. Watts Cos. Pruitt told the Connecticut Mirror that the tribe’s presentation will include new information to show that its earlier rejection was done in error. He added the tribe would be willing to challenge the bureau’s rule against reapplications as unconstitutional if it is denied a new review.
Federal recognition is required for the operation of a casino business. The only Connecticut tribes with federal recognition, the Mashantucket Pequots and the Mohegans, own and operate the state’s casinos and are seeking to team up for a third venue. Another tribe, the Schaghticoke Indian Tribe of Kent, is also preparing to seek federal recognition.