At a Senate hearing in November 2009, the chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee at that time, Senator Bryon Dorgan, described the recognition process as broken.
Some background: the Brothertown filed its letter of intent to petition for recognition in April 1980. Ten years later, in 1990, the Department of Interior (DOI) advised us that the congressional act in 1839 that gave us citizenship and allowed us to stay on our land was not an act of termination. In 2012, DOI concluded in its Final Determination that the congressional act actually was an act of termination and that, as a result, DOI lacked the authority to recognize the Brothertown.
To summarize: the Brothertown spent 32 years in a process that did not apply to us, despite receiving assurances from the government that the process did apply to us.
As hard as this may be for us as a Tribe, we see for other tribes a bigger picture. The table below shows a significant change in the tide of recognition. This should be a matter of concern for all tribes, recognized and not. The reduction in recognized tribes during the past 12 years as compared with the first 20 years has meaning.
|Period||Tribes Recognized||Tribes Not Recognized|
DOI has advised us that restoration legislation should be considered by our tribe. We know this process will be prohibitively expensive and very lengthy.
On the other hand, we have been delayed for 32 years. Plus, the Brothertown have survived the devastation of wars against the Indians and illnesses during the colonial period, the decimating losses of our people in every war fought by the colonial government - as well as every war waged by the U.S. government - since the French and Indian war. We survived 4 moves in 60 years because of repeated loss of land.
We do not take lightly the fight ahead of us. It will take time that many of do not have and it will take money that none of us have. However, because we know the fights behind us, we are confident that restoration of the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Brothertown Nation will be forthcoming.