Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Photo: Mohegan Education Director Mark Sperry Checks Wind Strength

Photo: Mark Sperry's Wing Span

Photo: Sperry Returns From Flight

Rhode Island Allows 24-Hour Slot Play On Weekends, Holidays

Feather News

State lawmakers in Rhode Island approved a measure that will allow the two racetrack-slot parlors in that state, Twin River and Newport Grand, to operate 24-hours on weekends and holidays.

The two slot parlors will be open from Fridays at 9 a.m. to 3 a.m. Monday morning in addition to its normal weekday schedule. The facilities will also operate 24-hours on both state and federal holidays.

The new law is to last for a year and must be renewed by lawmakers for 24-hour gaming to continue after that period. In other related news, R.I. lawmakers opposed increasing the minimum age to play slots to age 21.

See related articles:

Monday, April 28, 2008

Indian Affairs Official Carl Artman Resigns

Feather News

According to The Falmouth Institute blog, the assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Interior for Indian Affairs, Carl Artman, has reportedly resigned, effective May 23.

Artman, who heads the Bureau of Indian Affairs, recently gave Mohegan tribal officials renewed confidence in the Menominee Tribe's long-shot land-into-trust casino proposal. If approved and built, the Mohegans would expect to receive casino management fees from the Wisconsin casino.

See Falmouth Institute blogspot:

Kansas City Residents Sue To Block Possibility Of Mohegan Casino

Feather News

Four residents in Kansas City are suing to block three proposed casino projects in Wyandotte County, alleging that the proposed casinos would benefit from projects that received public financing previously or benefited from the use of eminent domain, which would violate the law that permits those same casinos.

The law, called the Kansas Expanded Lottery Act, allows for a casino in four different regions of the state but it also specifies that no public financing or eminent domain be used for the casino projects.

The three casino proposals that the plaintiffs seek to block are those of Pinnacle Entertainment, Speedway Entertainment and Legends Sun. Legends Sun is a $770 million project proposed by a partnership that includes the Mohegan Tribe.

Legends Sun made a statement in late March to the Kansas City Business Journal, calling the lawsuit "frivolous and without merit."

"The Legends Sun Resort Hotel & Casino development does not utilize (sales tax revenue) bonds, revenue bonds, tax increment financing or similar tax-abated financing, nor will it be located on land financed through these methods or acquired through eminent domain," according to the statement.

The lawsuit says the Legend Sun's casino proposal intends to coordinate marketing efforts of "The Legends" brand name with The Legends at Village West, which is a retail shopping and dining complex and which benefited from public financing for its infrastructure.

See related article:

The Tribe In The Media: Installation Of Sidewalks On Route 32

The following Norwich Bulletin article describes the tribe's most recent efforts to install a sidewalk along Route 32, the road used by many casino employees who walk to work. At least 3 deaths have been reported in recent years in what has become a dangerous artery for pedestrians:

Tribal Council, Montville Tackle Sidewalk Project
By Fran Morales
April 27, 2007

Mohegan - Grace Jackson drove by Mohegan Sun Friday. When she noticed the construction of a sidewalk alongside Route 32, she let out a sigh of relief.

After all, she knows the dangers of Route 32. Jackson’s 23-year-old son used to work as a dealer at Mohegan Sun.

“It’s about time,” said Jackson, an Oakdale resident, as she pumped gas at the nearby Shell Gas Station. “They should have created this a long time ago. If they know many of their employees walk to work, then they should create a safe way for their employees to get there.”

Pedestrian safety has been a growing concern for many residents, such as 21-year-old Brittany Bradham, a casino worker.

“I drive to work everyday and you can see, there is barely (any) space for them to walk (on Route 32),” said Bradham, a Norwich resident, who stopped to pick up her child from Mohegan Sun’s Lakeview Day Care Friday. “That’s why I’m always careful when I drive to work. I’m always afraid I’m going to hit them.”

The busy stretch of road has been the site of many accidents involving pedestrians, including a woman who was killed in September.


A 59-year-old pedestrian was the victim of a hit-and-run April 14. Fu Quan Liu of New York was walking within the designated crosswalk across Route 32 toward Sandy Desert Road in Montville when he was struck by a dark-colored sedan that ran a red light. Liu was rushed to The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich with serious internal injuries.

In light of recent events, employees have been offered reflective clothing such as armbands, and Mohegan Sun also is working on uniforms to make pedestrians more visible to a car at night.
The Tribal Council is picking up the cost of the estimated $2 million construction project.

The Mohegan Tribe has teamed up with the town of Montville to complete the construction project, which began last week and is expected to be finished by this summer.

“We are very excited to be working together,” said Chuck Bunnell, Tribal Council chief of staff. “We are hopeful the sidewalks on Route 32 will create a safer environment.”

The construction project will bring sidewalks that would connect with the existing sidewalk to Route 2A, ultimately passing Mohegan Sun to New London Turnpike.

In addition to the installation of the sidewalks, the Tribal Council will provide extensive lighting alongside Route 32 from the Norwich line to Golden Road, south of the Route 2A interchange.
“Hopefully this will help save some lives,” Jackson said.

See related Feather News article, along with local residents' comments to The Day article:

Friday, April 25, 2008

MTGA Postpones Earnings Discussion With Analysts

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has postponed its quarterly earnings conference call with financial analysts from May 1st to May 7th.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pennsylvania Votes Today ... Finally

By Ken Davison

It seems like it took forever for today to arrive, when Pennsylvanians will finally vote for their choice for President in the Democratic primary race. Almost regardless of the outcome, it looks like the contest between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama will last for months to come.

The national campaign manager for the Gore-Lieberman ticket in the 2000 Presidential race and with whom I shared an office for a year in Philadelphia city government, Donna Brazile, said yesterday to look for Senator Clinton "to take the fight to the convention."

The Democratic Convention will be held in Denver, Colorado on August 25-28.

Tribal members living in Pennsylvania can vote at the polls today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Note: Sen. Clinton won Pennsylvania 55% to Sen. Obama's 45% of the vote. The next contest is May 6 in Indiana and North Carolina.

Tribe's Banker Sees Its Profit Fall By 77% On Loan Writedowns

Feather News

Bank of America, the admistrative agent for the tribe's $1 billion line of credit and the backer of two tribal credit lines that total $50 million, announced a 77% decrease in first quarter profits due to trading losses and a $3.3 billion increase in reserves for problem loans.

Bank of America's chief executive, Ken Lewis said, "The weakness in the economy and prolonged disruptions in the capital markets took their toll." The bank said it "remains concerned" about the health of the consumer.

The troubling news comes on the heels of Bear Stearns, the investment bank that helped the tribe make history by raising money on Wall Street to build the original Mohegan Sun casino, becoming history itself last month when the credit crisis forced the firm's fire sale to JP Morgan Chase.

Bank of America is the administrative agent for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's $1 billion line of credit, which is being utilized for expansions at Mohegan Sun and the tribe's slot parlor in Pennsylvania and which may be increased to $1.25 billion at MTGA's request. Bank of America serves as the admistrative agent for the syndicate of 23 financial institutions and banks that are involved in the deal.

In addition to the $1 billion line of credit, MTGA has a $25 million line of credit with the Bank of America, which matured on March 31st, and a $25 million revolving credit that finances the proposed Cowlitz (Salishan-Mohegan) casino in Washington. As of December 31, 2007, MTGA used $18.8 million of the Salishan-Mohegan revolving credit line, which matures in July 2009.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kansas Expected To Make Decision On Possible Mohegan Casino In August

Feather News

A $770 million Kansas casino proposed by a partnership that includes the Mohegan Tribe will be reviewed by a state commission in mid-May and a final decision is expected in August.

Kansas is seeking to add casinos to four regions in the state and the area chosen by the partnership that includes the Mohegan Tribe is the Wayndotte County-Kansas City region.

The Kansas Lottery Commission, the body that will decide which groups get the casino licenses, announced last week that they will hear presentations from the 5 groups vying for the Wyandotte County-Kansas City region on May 19 and 20. The meetings will be open to the public.

State lawmakers passed an expanded gambling act last year that would allow for one casino in each of four regions. The Lottery Commission will negotiate contracts with all potential developers still in the running and a Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board will make the final selections. Meetings to announce the final decisions are scheduled for August 21 and 22 in Topeka.

A pending court case that challenges the constitutionality of casino gambling in the state has not impeded the proposal process.

The Mohegan Tribe partnered with Kansas City-based RED Development and Olympia Gaming of Las Vegas for a proposed casino, which passed a local government review board in December.

See related articles:

Photo: Mohegan Sun Concert: Leann Rimes

Photo: Mohegan Sun Concert: Leann Rimes

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photo: Mohegan Sun Concert: Kenny Chesney

Hit-And-Run At Sandy Desert

Feather News
Updated with video of accident

A hit-and-run accident near the intersection of Route 32 and Sandy Desert Road, which leads to the Mohegan Sun casino, took place late Monday night. Video of the hit-and-run is posted on the following site. After clicking on the following site, click on the video called "surveillance from Rt. 32 accident," located underneath the article headline:

The following are the comments of local residents that were posted to The Day newspaper's article, which was written following the incident:

Posted - 4/16/2008
10:51:40 AM
these people getting hit is mostly the STC's fault.The push button on the cross walk says wait for green lite to cross.But at the same time it turns green the left turn lite from the sun turns green. When the walkturns all other lites should stay red.- CHECK IT OUT and see for yourself.
bob uncasville

Posted - 4/15/2008
9:07:58 PM
i think you people are missing the point here. someone was hit and some irresponsible person took off. yes the employees are tough to see at night time, but come on when you run over a box you feel it in your car.your going to tell me the person didn't know or feel they hit someone or something. i don't buy it sorry.will the real driver...please stand up!
missing the pointniantic, ct

Posted - 4/15/2008
7:32:29 PM
I do believe that the Asian walkers , for their protection, were given reflective vests so they could be seen at night, yet they refuse to wear them. If not the vest then , how about some light colored clothes, or a flashlight. God knows that 32 is just as bad as 395, especially at disfunction junction....PEOPLE JUSTNEED TO SLOW DOWN, and to the person(s) who hit this poor girl and left, may you rot in hell.
mel new london

Posted- 4/15/2008
6:23:09 PM
I have worked at the Sun for close to twelve years and in that time, the Asian walkers as well as others have been given reflecticve wear, blinking lights to attatch to their clothing and other items. It is their decision to not utilize the safety gear provided for them at no charge. The blame falls with the driver whochose to run a light and did not have the humanity to stop for a fellow human being that they had just runover. Stop trying to blame the Sun for everything without knowing the full facts of how and what they provide for their employee's.
Craig Uncasville, Connecticut

Posted - 4/15/2008
5:39:53 PM

Posted - 4/15/2008
4:23:50 PM
Not sure why it's the Mohegan's fault that some idiot blew a red light and hit a pedestrian. There was a proper crosswalk and the Mohegans are correcting thatmess that Sandy DESERT was. Blame the irresponsible person that run an innocent down. I hope they are alright.
LaurieNorwich, CT

Posted - 4/15/2008
10:00:53 AM
How Much would it cost the Mohegans to save alife??For what ever reason there seems to be a lot of People of Asian decent getting run overor Killed right in this area. It should be the burden of the SUN torectify this, Many easy solutions, but alas they cost money and its cheaper to replace the fallen

Friday, April 18, 2008

Photo: Tribal Real Estate Transaction: House Sold By Tribe For $189,000

Photo: Tribal Real Estate Transaction: House Sold By Tribe For $189,000

Photo: Tribal Real Estate Transaction: House Sold By Tribe For $223,740

Tribal Real Estate Transactions Summary

Feather News

The tribe sold two houses recently - one in Uncasville that looks like it could front the tribe's Fort Shantok property and the other house in Oakdale. Photos of both properties are posted above this article.

The Oakdale property is 66 Washington Avenue and was purchased by the tribe on April 16, 2002 for $142,500 from Jack Neel. The neighbor, Lois, said an addition was put on the house since its purchase by the tribe. The house was sold to Robert and Lauren Sholes for $189,000 on February 20, 2008.

The property at Fort Shantok is 27 Rankin Court, which is a street off of Massapeag Avenue, was purchased by the tribe on October 1, 1998 for $120,900 from Christine Bugbey. The house was sold to Craig and Pamela Massey for $223,740 on February 29, 2008. The backyard of the property abutts the Tribe's Fort Shantok property. No other information was available.

If tribal members know anything more about these properties - especially why the tribe is selling property fronting Fort Shantok instead of buying property there - feel free to contact us or post your comments on this site.

Hopefully, the Feather News can stay abreast of the tribe's real estate transactions. Let us know if there's anything we should be checking out.

The Las Vegas Casino Billionaires

A Forbes article "The Casino Billionaires" features the people who made their money at one of the nation's two world-class gaming destinations: Las Vegas.

Editor's note: The other world-class gaming destination in the U.S. is Atlantic City. Although Connecticut is blessed with much beauty, it will never become a world-class gaming destination no matter how much money is spent on construction by the two Indian casinos.

City Council Ready To Impose Full Smoking Ban On Atlantic City Casino Gaming Floors

Feather News

The City Council in Atlantic City is ready to pass a law that would ban smoking at Atlantic City's casinos.

Two years after New Jersey passed a smoking ban in most public buildings, the casinos were expempted from the law. But that exemption may end when the City Council meets next Wednesday.

The Casino Association of New Jersey said that the smoking ban will hurt revenues but said it will comply if the casinos have enough time to build the enclosed smoking lounges that is expected to be permitted under the new law.

The ban would take effect October 15 under the draft ordinance.

See related article:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Maine Governor Vetoes Penobscot Tribe Slot Machine Bill; House Fails To Override Veto

Slot Revenues Continue To Decline At Both Connecticut Indian Casinos

Feather News

Slot machine revenues continued to decline at both Connecticut Indian casinos for the month of March. Last month's decline at Mohegan marked seven consecutive months of lower slot revenues.

Mohegan Sun reported a 1.4% decline in slot revenues for the month of March while Foxwoods was off by about 14%. Mohegan Sun's slot revenues for March was $76.8 million while Foxwoods reported slot revenues of $60.8 million, according to unofficial sources.

The casinos pay 25% of their slot revenues to the state of Connecticut.

A more complete analysis will be written once all pertinent figures are posted to the State of Connecticut website, such as slot handle and promotional give-aways.

Note: The following are links to the Connecticut Department of Special Revenue's web site. Once on the web site, go to the bottom of the page for the latest reporting periods. The web site was updated for the month of March after this article was written. Of note is that for the first month, Mohegan Sun's promotional give-aways exceeded that of Foxwoods:

Mohegan slot machine historical results since inception:

Foxwoods slot machine historical results since inception:

Photo: Sandy Desert Road - Route 32 Intersection

Maine Lawmakers Approve Slots On Penobscot Reservation In Maine

Feather News

Maine lawmakers approved a bill that would allow 100 slot machines on the Penobscot Indian reservation and now it is up to Governor John Baldacci to approve or veto the bill.

The state of Maine's Senate approved the bill last week by a margin of 23-12 and the House by a vote of 98-34. Should the governor veto the bill, the House and Senate would need a 2/3 vote to override the veto.

A referendum for slots on land that the Passamaquoddy Tribe had an option to purchase was rejected by county voters in November. Slot machines are currently allowed in Maine at Penn National's Hollywood Slots, which opened in 2005.

Note: Maine's Governor John Baldacci later vetoed the bill and the House failed to override the governor's veto. Baldacci restated his position that any expansion of gaming must be approved by voters through by referendum.

Related articles:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tribe To Notify Members Of Press Notices And Press Worthy Events

Feather News

In response to a Feather News request that seeks equal media access, the tribe's chief-of-staff, Chuck Bunnell, said all tribal members will be allowed access to press releases and notices on its web site as they are issued.

Also, tribal members will be given information on the web site as to "when and where we will be holding press worthy events before they happen and/or the same news that is released to the media after an event."

The Feather News will continue to monitor and ask for access that is no less restrictive than that offered to the local non-Indian media.

Tribe's Golf Course Opens For Season

Feather News

The Mohegan Sun Country Club at Pautipaug, opened on April 7 for its second season since the tribe purchased it last May.

The country club is located about 20 minutes from the casino and was established in 1960 and designed by Geoffrey Cornish, who is said to have designed more golf courses in New England than any other architect. The course was bought by the tribe for $4.4 million while total acquisition costs were $5 million, according to a press release.

The tribe through its business arm, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, established Mohegan Golf, LLC in November 2006 to purchase and operate the country club.

Last week, the Feather News caught up with Frank Chapman, the director of golf operations, who was located playing through on the 8th hole. Frank said the course hadn't been that busy in its first few days since its opening last week. While the course was purchased as an amenity for casino patrons and convention guests, about 180 people who were members of the golf course prior to its purchase by the tribe are allowed to continue "to be members with fixed membership dues for fifteen years."

The clubhouse and the surrounding green is shown in photos below. The clubhouse has since been renovated by the tribe but is now to be demolished and rebuilt according to new plans.

In addition to a swimming pool, the country club also has a 12-tee driving range. The pool area can accomodate 200 plus people and the banquet room can hold 175 guests, according to promotional literature.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, owner of Foxwoods casino, opened its two Rees Jones-designed courses at Lake of Isles golf course in 2005. Mohegan's purchase of its own golf course will allow the tribe to control tee-off times for patrons.

A map for directions to the course, located in Baltic, can be found on the following link. Once you've clicked onto the following link, the map can be adjusted in its upper left-hand corner:

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Photo: Tribe's Golf Course (1 of 6 photos)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Quarterly Membership Meeting Sunday At 12:30

Editorial: Feather News Seeks Same Press Access Extended To Non-Indian Press

Feather News

The Feather News, which provides independent news to Mohegan tribal members and is written by Mohegan tribal members, has requested access to the tribe's press conferences and press releases.

We contacted the tribe's chief-of-staff and former aide to U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, Chuck Bunnell, who has not yet been able to respond with positive news.

The Feather News is the only independent media in the tribe and its publisher, Ken Davison, has reported independently on tribal affairs off and on for fifteen years.

The publication has a number of roaming corresponding editors who are also tribal members and, in fact, all Mohegans are the inspiring drive behind the publication.

The Feather News simply asks for the same access that is given to the local non-Indian press.

After all, the more opportunities the Feather News has to extract information that may add to the collective knowledge of tribal members can only be helpful to the tribal body.

A free press is the right of tribal members and blocking access to this free press would be inconsiderate to the membership.

Separately, the Feather News has tweeked its publication. Readers can now post comments to articles on the Feather News as of tonight.

Tribal members have the option of using their names or can post comments anonymously due to the past history of tribal council's attitude toward tribal members expressing their thoughts. All comments will be reviewed before getting posted in the event they contain serious allegations that may need to be substantiated before being posted.

I'm sure we will have further thoughts on the policy of posting comments but, in the meantime ... feel free to express yourself.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Monthly Membership Meetings Canceled

The tribal government has canceled all monthly tribal membership meetings until further notice. The government has said they will continue to hold monthly "coffee hour" meetings with tribal members.

"Coffee Hour With Councilors" Meeting Canceled

An article in this week's Wuskuso newsletter - which was posted to the tribal government website today - tells tribal members that while canceling future monthly membership meetings, the tribal council would continue to hold the "coffee hour" meetings.

On the same day, the scheduled "coffee hour" meeting was canceled with no explanation.

All tribal councilors were seen in the tribal office building this morning so it is unclear why they could not attend their own scheduled "coffee hour" meeting or why they would cancel it on the very day they assured tribal members of their commitment to stick to those scheduled meetings.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coffee Hour With Tribal Councilors Wednesday At 9 AM

A reminder: The "Coffee Hour With Tribal Councilors" meeting will be held this Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. and the quarterly membership meeting will start this Sunday at 12:30.

Note: The "Coffee Hour With Tribal Councilors" is a Wednesday morning meeting with a time limit of one hour and was begun when tribal members' right to speak at tribal council meetings was eliminated. The "Coffee Hour" started out as a weekly meeting, held just before the Wednesday tribal council meetings, but has since been changed from 52 meetings per year to 12 times per year.

Editorial: Walking The Homeland

By Ken Davison

It is always enjoyable to walk the same grounds that our ancestors walked. I tried to capture the essence of some sections of reservation land in a series of photos posted below.

The first two photos of the eight photos below show the cedar forest at Uncas' stronghold, Fort Shantok, and a downpour-induced whitewater of a brook that runs through that same land just northwest of the sacred cemetery.

However, we admit the other six photos of the woodline taken just in front of the tribe's existing government building are less inspiring but may show a trail of chaos that may add credence to a return of a legendary woodland giant. We dare not call him by his name but we admit that we're frankly at a loss for any other explanation. We're happy to entertain other theories offered by our readers but how else could cars be crumpled like paper and tossed into the woods, appliances tossed from a distance or street signs torn and flung dozens of miles from their origin?

Some say that tribal councilors want a new government building to impress visitors. The new building, which will be combined with a community center, is currently forecasted to cost the tribal government between $90 million and $100 million and would be built south of the existing government building. Should the tribal government embark on this costly project, government debt would pass the $200 million mark.

On more than one occasion in the past, members have heard tribal leaders grumble about the condition of the yards where some tribal members have lived so it is no surprise that tribal councilors are deeply concerned with appearances.

The plan so far is that the top floor of the new government building-community center would consist of offices for the nine tribal councilors and their staff (including the chief-of-staff and legal counsel), giving them a birds-eye view of the reservation. If in fact there is a Bigfoot-like creature walking the woodline, then tribal councilors perched by themselves on the top floor of a new building will have a better opportunity than all other tribal members to sight this creature - if it does exist at all - and take the appropriate actions to keep up appearances.

Note: Photos are continued on page 2 of this blog.

Photo: Fort Shantok

Photo: Fort Shantok

Monday, April 7, 2008

City And County Seek To Reverse Key Approvals For Cowlitz Casino

By Ken Davison

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has hit a major hurdle in its quest to open a $510 million casino in Clark County, Washington.

Commissioners for the county in which the tribe is hoping to build a casino have signalled their intent to formally oppose the casino this Tuesday and another community, the city of Vancouver, is seeking to have another key federal approval for the proposed casino overturned in federal court.

A key 2004 agreement between the tribe and the county in which it is seeking to build a casino, Clark County, was struck down by a state board in December because the agreement was made without seeking input from the public. The tribe then submitted the meat of that agreement in the form of a gaming ordinance to the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), which approved the ordinance on January 8.

The NIGC is now being sued by the city of Vancouver claiming that the NIGC should not have approved the gaming ordinance because the land in which the tribe wants to build the casino is not reservation land and, further, because there is no gaming compact between the tribe and the state of Washington.

The Cowlitz tribe is seeking to place 152 acres into trust as reservation land where it hopes to build the casino - which would be developed and managed by the Mohegan Tribe - but that application has not yet been approved. The land is now owned by a partnership between the Mohegan Tribe and Cowlitz tribal member David Barnett and is not considered "Indian" land as required under federal law.

The city of Vancover, in their filing last Friday in the U.S. District Court in Tacoma says the NIGC's approval should be overturned because it lacks jurisdiction under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The Cowlitz Tribe is seeking to establish its initial reservation since its federal recognition decision in 2002. Over a year has passed since a required environmental survey on that tract of land was submitted to the Department of Interior and nothing has been heard yet from that agency.

The tribe's 2004 agreement with Clark County, labelled a memorandum of understanding or MOU, requires the tribe to pay for certain law enforcement costs, to compensate local governments for lost property taxes and to comply with building and traffic stipulations.

Although the first of three public hearings on a new memorandum of understanding are scheduled to begin tomorrow, county commissioners stated their intention to vote on a resolution formally opposing the casino on Tuesday. Commissioners have said they would like the 152-acre tract of land to become a business park rather than a casino.

According to Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority financial statements, $18.8 million has been borrowed specifically for the Cowlitz casino project as of December 31, 2007. This amount is guaranteed by the Mohegan Tribe as well as being "collateralized by a lien on substantially all of the existing and future assets of Salishan-Mohegan."

See related articles:

Governor To Begin Dialogue With Tribes On Proposed Casino Smoking Ban

Feather News

Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell has written to to state lawmakers asking them to withdraw a bill that seeks to ban smoking in the two Connecticut Indian casinos while she discusses the issue with both the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes.

Rell said that while she is concerned about the health perspective she acknowledges that a ban on smoking would result in lower casino revenues and could lead to job cuts at the two casinos.

State Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams told the Hartford Courant that "he sees no reason to kill the bill at this point."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Three Of Seven Narragansett Tribal Members Convicted In Smoke Shop Raid

By Ken Davison

Narragansett tribal members Matthew Thomas, Randy Noka and Hiawatha Brown were convicted yesterday on misdemeanor charges relating to the 2003 raid on their Charleston, R.I., tribal smoke shop while charges were dropped against four other tribal members.

After four hours of jury deliberations, Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas was left convicted of simple assault, Randy Noka of disorderly conduct and Hiawatha Brown for both disorderly conduct and simple assault. Lawyers say it is unlikely any of the men will face jail time although the simple assault charge carries a maximum sentence of one year.

The issue of cigarrette taxes arose in Connecticut in 1993 when self-proclaimed Paugussett war chief Moon Face Bear (a.k.a. Kenneth Piper) led a 13-week armed stand-off against state troopers on their Colchester reservation. Bear subsequently died of leukemia during the trial, leaving the tax collection issue unresolved. Moon Face was charged with selling 20,000 unstamped cigarrettes and interfering with the police.

In opposition to the tribe's claims, Connecticut State's Attorney C. Robert Satti argued that "where the legislature intends a tax exemption for Indians it specifically gives one as in the case of reservation property and automobiles." Moon Face argued that selling tax-free cigarrettes was a sovereign right to be claimed by Indians and not a right granted by outsiders. Satti also maintained that Moon Face Bear was acting as an individual of that state-recognized tribe.

In New York, cigarettes are sold tax-free on Indian reservations and are estimated to account for a third of all cigarette sales in that state.

In the Narragansett case, the charges were a result of a Rhode Island state police raid on their smoke shop because the tribe was selling cigarettes without collecting state taxes. A federal appeals court ruled the tobacco sales were illegal and police later sent 51 officers including a SWAT team to the shop. A search warrant was issued but a police sergeant said he didn't have time to show it during the raid.

One of the defendants, Randy Noka, is an employee at the Mohegan Sun.

Motions for a new trial will be heard on April 28 and a sentencing decision is expected at a later date.

See video (be patient, a 15-second commercial will play before the 3-minute video of the raid begins) :

Friday, April 4, 2008

John McCain Writes To Indian Country

McCain: Building relationships, achieving results
By U.S. Senator John McCain

Over the years, I have received the support and friendship of many people from Indian country, and I am firmly committed to ensuring that they are treated justly and fairly. I continue to believe very strongly that the federal government has a special ethical and legal responsibility to help make the American dream accessible to American Indians. As president, I will continue to work in close consultation with the tribes in order to build on my record of achieving results for Indian country. I believe in protecting tribal sovereignty and I recognize the unique government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes and the trust responsibility.

As former chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and a current member of the committee, I have consistently sponsored legislation and enacted laws that have helped improve conditions on Indian reservations and have strengthened the ability of tribal governments to provide essential programs and services.

Tribal self-governance is incredibly important to Indian country and, over the course of my 25 years in Congress, I have worked hard to take power out of the hands of Washington bureaucrats and to place it in the hands of tribal governments. As president, my dedication to tribal self-determination will reinvigorate the policy of tribal self-governance. I have also worked tirelessly to strengthen law enforcement on reservations, including improving tribal courts and detention facilities. In authoring the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Protection Act, I was an early leader in addressing victims' rights, family violence and child abuse.

I have worked consistently to improve health care for Indians, including reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, championing efforts to combat diabetes, and supporting efforts to address chronic mental health and substance abuse problems on reservations. I have also fought for greater autonomy with regard to health care, advocating for permanent self-governance authority for the IHS to enable Indian tribes to directly administer tribal health facilities and programs. Furthermore, I authored legislation to designate an Assistant Secretary for Indian Health to prioritize and simplify health services within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The long history of misuse and abuse of Indian resources held in trust, coupled with unreasonable and unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, has stifled new and expanded economic opportunities on reservations. I fought to enact the American Indian Trust Management and Reform Act of 1994, and have sponsored legislation to help tribes protect both their natural and cultural resources and to reform the broken trust system. I introduced the first comprehensive legislation to resolve longstanding litigation over trust accounts and reform the trust system; and, as president, will make comprehensive reform of the trust system and resolution of the trust accounting litigation a priority. I sponsored the Reservation Employment Tax Credit and the Accelerated Depreciation Allowance for reservation businesses and have consistently fought to protect the right of tribes to engage in gaming on Indian lands.

Long before the No Child Left Behind Act, I pushed for reforms to BIA schools and an increase in resources for tribal education programs. I fully understand that providing educational opportunities to our nation's Native children is critical to preparing them for productive livelihoods, including the preservation of American Indian languages and cultural identity. We must continue the BIA schools construction initiative, which has provided nearly $1 billion for the construction of new schools and refurbishment of numerous others on reservations, and provide the resources necessary to make those schools safe learning environments for Native youth.

I have been very supportive of American Indian veterans, including championing many of the efforts to get the recognition deserved for the many code talkers who have proudly served our nation. I have led congressional efforts to build the Native American Veterans' Memorial, and will continue my fight to honor our national commitment to our veterans, including Native veterans, who have devoted their lives to ensuring our freedom.

It is essential for the federal government to live up to its responsibility to help ensure that the American dream is fully accessible inside Indian country. As president, I will continue to work hard to protect tribal sovereignty and improve the federal government's relationship with Indian tribes.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Photo: Intertribal Social

Inter-Tribal Social On Mohegan Reservation

About six hundred people attended the intertribal social held on the Mohegan reservation last Sunday, while half of the crowd was estimated to be from the Mohegan tribe.

Transportation was provided for elders who live at the tribe's elder housing complex at Fort Hill. Its unclear, however, why the bus would bring those elders back to Fort Hill a half-hour before the event was over.

Pennsylvania Court Tells City Of Philadelphia To Approve Foxwoods Construction

Feather News

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court voted unanimously to force the city council of Philadelphia to approve a Foxwoods casino in that city.

The court said the city council exceeded its authority by failing to act on the proposed casino, approved by the state's gaming commission in December 2006. Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille wrote that "there is ample evidence that the inaction was a deliberate attempt by the Council to simply delay the construction of the casinos."

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and its partners should now be able to break ground on the casino, to be called Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia. The casino is one of two casinos approved for the city of Philadelphia, considered by many to be the most lucrative gaming location in the state.

A spokesman for the group said the construction is expected to take 22 months and the casino would have 3,000 slot machines in addition to restaurants and bars. After the casino opens, the group plans to later build a hotel and convention space.

A second casino slated for Philadelphia is the Sugar House Casino, to be located on the the banks of Delaware River.

Once the two casinos in Philadelphia open, the city would become the country's largest city with casino gambling.