Sunday, May 26, 2024


Federal Judge Rejects Indian Land Claims

A federal judge in New Haven today rejected all remaining land claims filed by the Golden Hill Paugussett Indians who have used the claims to try to force approval of plans to build a gambling casino in Bridgeport.

The land claims, repeatedly rebuffed by state and federal courts, involved tens of thousands of acres in southwestern Connecticut. At one point the claims made over a decade included some in Westport. The town has opposed a Bridgeport casino.

U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton, in dismissing three remaining federal land claim cases brought by the tribe, said the Golden Hill group lacks standing to take possession of so-called ancestral lands.

She said the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has concluded that the group ceased being a viable Indian tribe more than 100 years ago.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who has fought the Paugussetts’ efforts to seize land, open a casino and win federal recognition, expressed hope that Arterton’s decision would finally conclude the litigation.

However, the Paugussetts have repeatedly challenged past legal losses, and a tribal leader said that the efforts would continue.

“We disagree with Judge Arterton’s decision and will appeal our case to the 2nd Circuit, as is our legal right,” Chief Quiet Hawk, who also is known as Aurelius Piper Jr., said in a statement.

The Paugussetts say they have been recognized by the State of Connecticut for more than 300 years and, according to the Connecticut General Statutes, are still considered an indigenous, sovereign entity. The tribe has reservations in Colchester and Trumbull.

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