Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flash: Mohegan Gaming Authority Issues Second Quarter Profit Report Today

By Ken Davison
Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) today announced a profit of $33.2 million for the second quarter, which covers the three-month period of January 1, 2009 through March 31, 2009. This profit, or net income, represents less than 1 percent decline over the profits reported in the same period last year.

In February, MTGA reported a $3.8 million loss for the first quarter, which was for the three-month period of October 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008. MTGA operates on a fiscal year basis, which begins on October 1st of each year. Today's announcement by MTGA was for the second quarter of January through March.

Included in the second quarter profit of $33.2 million is a gain of $8.5 million on the early extinguishment of debt, which resulted from paying down $14.3 million of bonds due in 2011 at a favorable rate. Distributions that MTGA pays the Mohegan Tribal government are not subtracted from MTGA profits.

Steep revenue declines at Mohegan Sun in the second quarter were partially offset by a decrease in operating expenses.

Combined gaming revenues at Mohegan Sun and Pocono Downs were down 9.5 percent compared to the same three-month period last year. Gaming revenues at Mohegan Sun alone were down about 15 percent. Hotel revenues were down 24 percent, food and beverage sales were down almost 20 percent and retail and entertainment revenues were down about 27 percent.

Combined operating expenses decreased by 11 percent over the same period last year.

When taking interest expense into account, Pocono Downs continued to lose money. The Pennsylvania facility registered income from operations of about $3.5 million, a slight increase over the $3.2 million in the second quarter of 2007. Interest expense is not deducted from the income from operations figure. After deducting interest expense, Pocono Downs is estimated to have lost about $5 million for the three-month period, despite a 30 percent increase in its gaming revenues due to the doubling of slot machines in the expansion that opened last July.

MTGA's total debt was approximately $1.6 billion as of March 31 and the weighted average interest rate was 6.9 percent.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mohegan Sun's Free Slot Giveaways Fail To Stem Slot Revenue Declines

By Ken Davison
Feather News

In an attempt to stem declines in slot revenues that first began to drop two years ago, the Mohegan Sun has been giving away free slot play since November 2007. Despite the promotion, the year over year slot revenue declines have continued.

Foxwoods began the free slot play promotion in September 2006, 14 months before Mohegan Sun began using the same promotion.

Mohegan Sun's slot machine revenue declined 14.6 percent in March (when compared to March 2007) despite giving away $2.3 million in free slot play to customers. The free slot play redeemed at Mohegan Sun in April was the highest amount given away since November 2008, when customers redeemed $2.7 million worth of free slot play.

Foxwoods gave out $4.3 million in free slot play during the month of March, the most it has given out since October 2008. Foxwoods slot machine revenue increased about 1 percent in March when compared to the month of March in the prior year.

Foxwoods has been much more agressive in its free slot play promotion. While Mohegan Sun has given away a total of about $37 million in free slot play over 17 months, for an average of $2.2 million per month, Foxwoods has given away about about $137 million over 34 months, averaging about $4 million per month in free slot play.

In the month of December 2007 alone, Foxwoods gave out $23 million in free slot play. The next highest monthly giveaway was last October, when Foxwoods gave out about $9 million in free play to its customers.

Both tribes are disputing the state of Connecticut's assertion that the state is due 25 percent of the coupon amount lost by customers in slot machines, the same percentage that the tribal casinos are required to pay the state on slot revenues. Both tribal casinos have deposited disputed amounts in an escrow account pending a court decision.

Note: A link to the 58-page compact between the Mohegan Tribe and the state of Connecticut has been posted on this site, just below the 'Tribal Calendar' section on the right-hand side of this website page. Tribal members may be interested in page 48 and 49 of the compact regarding the controversial health standards and alcoholic beverage regulations agreed upon by the parties.

Photo: Tribe's Archaeologist Gives History Lesson To Students At Fort Shantok Today

Photos: Tribe's Office In Palmer, Massachusetts

The Mohegan Tribe's new office in Palmer, Massachusetts, where the Tribe is planning on bidding for a casino if casino gambling becomes legalized in that state. Tiles in front of the office were replaced yesterday morning and the office has recently been painted. Mohegan representatives are planning on being in the Palmer office three days per week beginning May 18th, according to an MTGA public relations employee we spoke with in the new Palmer office.

The Mohegans have also entered into a 99-year lease for a 152-acre site in Palmer. "We're spending several million dollars at this stage is reasonable for the risk and investment that proceeds," Paul Brody, vice president of development for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said last Fall."

Seminole Tribe In Florida Facing New Gaming Threats

By Ken Davison
Feather News

The Seminole Tribe in Florida opened its bingo hall in 1979 followed by casinos and in 2006 the Tribe bought the Hard Rock hotel and restaurant chain. All of this was done without a compact between the Seminoles and the state.

That changed in late 2007, when a 25-year compact was signed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist that would result in the Seminoles paying the state $100 million a year. The state legislature objected to the governor's negotiated compact without legislative approval and the Florida supreme court agreed in July 2008 that the governor did not have the authority to permit blackjack under the conpact.

Despite the state's Supreme Court ruling, the state has not tried to stop the Seminoles from offering blackjack.

Since the supreme court decision, the state legislature has proposed two competing gaming deals, one proposed by the House of Representatives and the other by the state Senate. Neither side seems able to compromise on one agreeement. In one of the deals, the House of Representatives would have the Seminoles shut down its blackjack tables and offer only slot machines while the second package, approved by the Senate, would allow the Tribe to operate craps, roulette, blackjack and other card games but would also allow pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties to offer blackjack. Pari-mutuel facilities outside those two counties would be able to offer video lottery termal (VLT) slots and poker under the Senate plan. The House plan wants the Seminoles to continue paying the state $100 million per year while the Senate plan wants the Seminoles to pay the state $400 million per year.

Miami-Dade county voters approved slot machines at pari-mutuels in 2008 and Broward county voters approved slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities in 2005. Pari-mutuels are betting systems common in horse racing, greyhound racing and jai alai where the the total amount paid out is based on the total amount bet less a percentage kept by the house.

Last week Gov. Crist and the Seminoles agreed to terms on a potential new amended compact that would result in the Seminoles lending the state $1.1 billion over the next two years which the state would repay by deducting the loan from future payments made by the Seminoles to the state. The deal would give the Seminoles a monopoly on Class III slot machines outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties and allow the Seminole to continue operating blackjack games. Legislators are not supporting the governor's plan.

Seminole Tribal members receive an estimated $120,000 per year in distributions from casino profits.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Connecticut Reports Probable Swine Flu Cases

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Two adults who recently traveled to Connecticut may have contracted the swine flu virus, according to Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell.

Mexico is believed to be the epicenter of the swine flu virus and the cases identified in the United States are being tracked to those who traveled to Mexico or people who had contact with those travelers.

The possible Connecticut cases were residents of Stratford and Southbury and neither have yet been hospitalized. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are analyzing swab samples from the two people. If confirmed, Connecticut would be the sixth state to be affected by the virus.

The CDC has so far confirmed 68 cases of the swine flu in the United States.

Three others, living in East Haddam, Ct., may also have contracted the virus and the town has ordered three schools there to be closed.

The best preventive measures suggested are to wash hands frequently and avoid travel to Mexico.

Mexico has closed all restaurants in its capital city, banned large gatherings and barred entry into archaeoligical sites, including its pyramids. The swine flu is believed to have caused over 150 deaths and thousands of illnesses in Mexico. Both Argentina and Cuba have banned travel to and from Mexico.

"I fully expect we will see deaths from this infection," said the CDC's acting director Richard Besser.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Photos: Mohegan Artist Presents Gourds At Regional Powwows

Mohegan Indian RJ at UMass Powwow

RJ at UConn Powwow

Tribal Member Asks Tribal Court For Constitutional Ruling On Petitioning Laws

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Tribal member Michael Bartha filed a complaint in Mohegan Tribal Court on Friday seeking a constitutional interpretation of the petitioning rights of Tribal members in regards to enacting ordinances.

Bartha was one of three sponsors of a March 25th petition (Petition Number 2009-02) that, if judged a legal petition, would allow Tribal members to vote in a referendum to enact their own version of a freedom of information ordinance.

Article XII, Section 1 of the Mohegan Constitution states that "The members of The Tribe reserve to themselves the power to propose ordinances and resolutions and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the Tribal Council upon petition of thirty-five (35) of the registered voters within seven (7) days of such action."

The Tribe's election ordinance, approved by the Tribal Council, does not allow for enacting ordinances (laws) by a petition of 35 tribal members as permitted in the constitution. Section 212, Part 2, of the Election Code which states, in part, “For any petition to … propose ordinances and resolutions … requires the verified signatures of at least forty percent (40%) of the registered voters of The Tribe …”

While Bartha believes the petition is legal based on the constitution, even the constitution is not entirely clear. While the constitution says, as noted above, that 35 tribal members can enact an ordinance another section of the constitution says that signatures of 40 percent of the voters must sign a petition to enact an ordinance.

Bartha asserts that Section 212, Part 2, of the Election Code violates his right to petition to enact ordinances as guaranteed under the Mohegan Constitution and asks the Tribal Court to rule on the constitutionality of Section 212, part 2, of the Election Code as it relates to enacting ordinances by petition and, further, to declare that a referendum vote by tribal members be held in accordance with the petition (Petition 2009-02) submitted to the Election Committee on March 25, 2009.

The above petition is not to be confused with two petitions (petition 2009-01 and 2009-03) submitted that sought to reject freedom of information ordinances previously approved by the Tribal Council this year.

Photos: Powwows at UConn, CCSU And University of Massachusetts

Top Photo: Shane L. of the Mohegans at UConn Powwow

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Documentary Of Cherokee's Trail Of Tears To Be Televised On Monday Night

By Ken Davison
Feather News

The third of five segments of the television documentary "We Shall Remain" will air Monday night at 9 p.m. on local PBS stations. The third segment will cover the Cherokee Tribe's Trail of Tears.

Thousands of Cherokee Indians were forced to leave their territory in in the Southeast United States in 1838 on a march to what would later be called Oklahoma in which more than 4,000 Cherokees died of starvation and disease. The route taken became known as "The Trail of Tears" or "The Trail Where They Cried."

In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. This led to various tribes leaving the Southeast for Indian Territory in the West. In 1831, the Choctaw were removed, then the Seminoles in 1832, followed by the Creek in 1834, the Chickasaw in 1837 and the Cherokee in 1838.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an 1832 cae, Worcester v. Georgia, that the Cherokees were a sovereign nation and that the Cherokees could only be removed by a treaty between the United States and the Cherokee Nation. A minority of Cherokee tribal members (less than 500) under a Cherokee Chief, Major Ridge, agreed to the removal treaty in 1835, which ultimately resulted in their 1838 march westward to what is now Oklahoma.

The first two parts of the five-part "We Shall Remain" documentary were televised over the last two weeks. The first segment focused on the Wampanoag Indians of New England and last week's segment was on Tecumsah and his brother, two Shawnee Indians who convinced distinct tribes to band together in a confederacy to combat the white mans' westward expansion.

The Tribes In The Media: Wampanoag and Narragansett Officials Critical Of 'We Shall Remain' Segments

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media reflects a critique of the first two segments shown in the five-part 'We Shall Remain' documentary on PBS.

Wampanoag: PBS failed to get tribe perspective
By Matthew M. Burke
The Cape Cod Times
April 23, 2009

MASHPEE — The head of the Public Broadcasting Service is rebutting criticism from local American Indian tribes that the nonprofit network did not consult tribal historic preservation officers for its TV series "We Shall Remain."

The series, which tells U.S. history from the American Indian perspective, debuted on April 13 and is scheduled to run Mondays for five episodes, said Patrick Ramirez, a spokesman for WGBH Boston.

'We Shall Remain' The first episode, "After the Mayflower," detailed the Wampanoag's dealings with the Pilgrims, among other topics.

A joint statement sent to the network by members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the Narragansett Indian Tribe said that PBS did not consult them and offered a "radically altered interpretation" of Shawnee Chief Tecumseh.

The tribes also argued consultation is guaranteed through the National Historic Preservation Act because federal money was used for the project through the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"We should have been consulted," said George "Chuckie" Green, a Mashpee selectman who also serves as a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag's Tribal Historic Preservation Authority and is a medicine man in training. "It's an unauthorized version of the story."

Paula Kerger, the president and chief executive officer of PBS, defended the network's efforts to work with tribes in a written response to Green but did not return calls for comment yesterday.

The show is an American Experience Production made in conjunction with Native American Public Telecommunications for WGBH Boston, according to the show's Web site. Messages left for Native American Public Telecommunications were not immediately returned and American Experience Productions could not be reached for comment.

Green said that he had first heard about the project earlier this year. The tribes feel they should have been consulted from conception to production if the history is truly to be told "through the Indian perspective," he said.

He said that he had received Kerger's letter but had not had time to read it.

Kerger said in her letter that the filmmakers held a creative meeting in Cambridge three years ago and that Jonathan Perry, an Aquinnah Wampanoag, who was a member of Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program, was a "key participant."

Perry declined an offer to become a cultural consultant on the miniseries because of time constraints, but he did recommend a member of the Narragansett tribe, who was also affiliated with Plimoth Plantation's Wampanoag Indigenous Program's Advisory Board, Kerger said. The Narragansett tribe member, Cassius Spears, was deeply involved in the first episode of the series, she said. Spears could not be reached by the Times yesterday.

Kerger's letter — provided to the Times by WGBH and sent to Green on Tuesday — said the producers did reach out to the tribes and interviewed several tribal members, including Jessie "Little Doe" Baird of the Mashpee Wampanoag.

Baird could not be reached for comment yesterday, either.

Paula Peters, a member of the Mashpee tribe and current marketing director for Plimoth Plantation, said the living-history museum declined to work with the producers once it was clear they could not reach an understanding with the tribes.

Last year, producers of the film contacted tribe members affiliated with the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project of which Baird is founder and director and which is an entity separate from the Wampanoag tribe, Peters said.

Producers expressed interest in using the Wampanoag language in the production, Peters said. But a rift developed between them and the tribe after trusted people involved in the miniseries were replaced, she said.

Plimoth Plantation backed out when producers would not let tribe members review the final script, Peters said.

Baird's interview had already been recorded and Baird had signed a release, she said.

Peters declined to comment on the statement sent by the tribes to PBS. She said there were some wardrobe inaccuracies in the first episode but applauded the amount of interest generated by the "terrific portrayal" of King Philip's War.

Mohegan Gaming Authority To Issue 2nd Quarter Earnings Report On Thursday

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The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) will issue its second quarter's earnings report (profit/loss report) this Thursday, according to a press release.

MTGA operates on a fiscal year that runs from October 1st through September 30th. MTGA lost $3.7 million in the first three months of the fiscal year (October 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008). The second quarter that will be reported upon on Thursday is for the three-month period of January 1, 2009 through March 31, 2009.

During the three-month period of October through December, MTGA also reported that its Pennsylvania slot parlor, known as Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, reported a $1 million loss before taking into accounr the hefty interest expense on the money borrowed to build and expand the facility. When that interest expense is taken into account, it is estimated that Pocono Downs lost about $10 million for that three month period.

MTGA would have reported a profit instead of a loss had the losses at Pocono Downs not been included in the results.

Although MTGA will issue its earnings report on Thursday, MTGA's balance sheet and statement of cash flows are expected to be released in May.

U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency Over Swine Flu Outbreak

By Ken Davison
Feather News

Today the United States declared that the emerging swine flu virus is a public health emergency.

The first cases in the nation were reported at the end of last week in Texas but four other states have since reported swine flu cases. As of Sunday, 20 cases have been reported but this caseload is expected to increase.

This weekend, eight New York City high school students were found to have contracted the swine flu. It was reported that some students from the high school recently visited Mexico, where the virus is believed to have originated. St. Francis high school is the largest private Catholic high school in the country and has canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday. Public schools will be open tomorrow.

The New York City health department has recommended that doctors test patients for the swine flu if they have flu symptoms and have recently traveled to Mexico, Texas or California. A 9-year-old Ohio boy who was recently in Mexico has contracted the swine flu virus and Kansas married couple whose husband recently visited Mexico also have the virus. At least nine swine flu cases have so far been reported in California and Texas.

In Mexico, 87 deaths are said to have come from the swine flu virus.

Officials in Canada announced today the discovery of six persons with the swine flu virus, becoming the third country to report the virus. The World Health Organization called the emerging swine flu virus a "public health emergency of international concern."

Swine flu, a strain of the H1N1 virus, is a respiratory disease of pigs and can be contracted by humans who are around pigs. The virus can also be spread from person to person. Symptoms include: high fever, body aches, coughing, sore throat and breathing difficulties.

The virus is not yet considered a global pandemic as it is not known how easily the virus spreads. Washing hands frequently is recommended as a preventive measure.

According to the acting chief for the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Richard Besser, "As we continue to look for cases, we are going to see a broader spectrum of disease. We're going to see more severe disease in this country."

Doses of Tamiflu, previously stockpiled by the federal government to combat a possible outbreak of avian flu, are being shipped to states. Tamiflu has so far been found to be effective against the new swine flu.

U.S. Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano urged people to think of today's public health emergency announcement as a declaration of emergency preparedness. "We're preparing in an environment where we really don't know ultimately what the size of seriousness of this outbreak is going to be."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the outbreak was serious but that the public not panic. According to Gibbs, President Obama is getting updates every few hours on the swine flu situation.

As a friend who had just returned from Mexico said to me today: "This is not a drill."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Mohegan Lillian Sullivan Passes On

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It comes with much sadness to report that Lillian Sullivan passed away on Wednesday.

Lillian's smile, warmth and wit will be cherished by those who were fortunate to have known her. Lillian was politically active in the Tribe and a friend to many Mohegans. Her obituary noted that "during her life she worked in several interesting positions. She acquired a college degree in adulthood and worked many years counseling. She was always there for a child's party or to cheer at their games, to make regalia, and encourage their Mohegan Tribal dancing. Lillian's native name means "Spiritual One", and so she was in a realistic loving way, always striving to help others in their struggles while enduring her own. Lil is a shining example of our Mohegan call, "we persevere."

Lillian, 74, was the wife of John Sullivan Sr. and the daughter of Walter Anthony and Orneda Saunders Benson of the Mohegan's Cooper clan. She has many survivors.

Burial will be at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, 2009, in Fort Shantok Burial Grounds in Uncasville.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reminder: Quarterly Membership Meeting This Sunday At 12:30

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Don't forget the new location for the Quarterly Membership meeting: It's in the Tribal meeting room, NOT in the casino's ballroom.

Perhaps someone from the Tribal government will post a sign at the entrance of the Uncas Ballroom, where some of our Tribal meetings have been held recently just to make Tribal members aware of the location change from past meetings.

The Tribes In The Media: Editorial On Indian Names

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The following editorial was on the website today - I thought it was interesting.

Editorial: Taking pride in traditional names
Charles Trimble
April 24, 2009

Back in the early 1970s when we were setting up the American Indian Press Association, we held several regional gatherings to meet with editors of tribal newspapers and other Native news publications to promote the idea of a national association. One such meeting, which was held in Albuquerque, was especially well attended, and among those in attendance were several young men who were the new wave of Indian radicals. This was before AIM was well known, and many of the angry young people had formed their own student organizations, patterned after other white, black and Latino radical youth movements of the times.

In some ways, those times were like the Cultural Revolution in China, and Indian Country had its own self-styled PC police that patrolled meetings and especially larger conferences to keep their bourgeois elders in line, politically and culturally. At the Albuquerque meeting this surly squad of juvenile militants swaggered down the aisle and sat front-and-center in the audience. They sat silently and glared at panelists and other presenters on stage, waiting to pounce on anything they thought was offensive to their cultural sensitivities.

At one point in a panel presentation, one of the young men rose to say that Indians in the newspaper business were as guilty as the white man’s government and the missionaries in forcing assimilation on Native people. This was being done, he said, by making Indian people get their news only in English, using the printed symbols of an alien enemy culture – the alphabet.

The young man never said that we should stop doing so, or that perhaps we should discuss other options, such as developing alphabets for each of the linguistic groups among our tribal nations. However, he made his point and brought the meeting to a long silence as the panelists looked at each other for someone to address the young man’s concern.

Then from the audience rose a huge man by the name of Harvey Wells, one of the earliest leaders of the AIM movement. In a booming voice, he directed his statement to the young militants, “The answer is that English is the lingua franca of intertribal Indian affairs.” Then to the panel, “Now let’s get on with this meeting.”

We were all thankful for Harvey’s clarification, although subsequently we all had to look up the term “lingua franca” to find out what the heck he was talking about.

As surly and as judgmental as that young radical was, maybe he had a point when one thinks of the mess linguists have made of Native languages. One can see foreign influences all over the place.

Take for example, my own Lakota name Red Willow, which was given to me when I was a little boy by a noted elder, John Red Willow, in my home village of Wanblee on the Pine Ridge Reservation. I treasure that name and carry it with great pride. But in the Lakota dictionary it is spelled cansasa, which most people would pronounce like the name of the flat state Kansas. However, it is pronounced Cha SHA Sha, with a nasal “n” at the end of Cha.

Purists in the Lakota language will always write the Lakota expression of greeting or agreement as “hau” instead of “how.” Yet it is likely that that spelling came from the entry put in his Lakota dictionary by Father Eugene Buechel, SJ, who was from Germany. That is the German spelling of “ow,” such as in frau, or haus, instead of frow or house.

The use of the single letters “s” or “c” for the Lakota pronunciation of “ch” or “sh” is more like the Italian language uses for those consonants.

So, whoever you are, surly young radical (who is, in all likelihood, a tribal politician these days), maybe you should start a movement for new alphabets, like the Cherokee syllabary, to handle written tribal communication, so we can junk this mess that our Anglo scholars left for us.

Translation or interpretation is another thing. During the AIM activities surrounding the Yellow Thunder killing in 1972, I was sitting in the old OST office building listening to a small group of old men. They were talking about how none of this mischief would have been happening if the old chiefs like American Horse were still around. I asked them what the name American Horse is in the Lakota language, because I had never heard a specific Lakota word for American, as we have for German, Chinese, and French nationalities. One said it was Tasunka Wasicu, White Man’s Horse, but another said that the original name was Tasunka Milahanska, Cavalry Horse. In early days only the military was referred to as “Americans.” When I left several minutes later to meet with the tribal president, there still was no agreement among the elders.

I like what Sioux people are doing with their translated surnames, especially the likes of Ron His Horse is Thunder, who returned to his Dakota name from the name Ron McNeill, which is the name he carried for much of his life. He could have just accepted the name Thunder Horse, as it would usually be translated. But His Horse is Thunder is the correct way, and a much more dramatic way of saying it.

Perhaps the greatest name in Indian Country, along with Tecumseh and Geronimo and Sequoia, is that of Crazy Horse. The name has been stolen for a line of fashionable clothing, a posh nightclub in Paris, and even a brand name for a beer (although pressure from Indian people caused the brewer to cease and desist using it). But what is the true meaning of the name Tasunka Witko, which has been accepted to mean Crazy Horse? It certainly does not mean insane, I am sure, or goofy like a kid. The name is so greatly respected, and almost sacred among our people, that we would never tolerate making fun of it. But it must have some more rational meaning than the word “crazy,” or “foolish,” as the Lakota dictionary translated the word Witko.

A friend of mine during my growing-up years in Wanblee was Vincent Wolf Guts. His older brother Clarence returned from WWII, but kept his war stories to himself, including the fact that he was among the elite group of Lakota code talkers. A part of the process of trying to assimilate Indian people into the mainstream was to get them to change surnames. Often, they were urged to use only one of the two or more words in the name: for instance, changing Blue Horse to simply Blue. It was, they said, only meant to help tribal people from being embarrassed by whites that would ridicule their names. More likely, however, it was just another way of stripping the people of their tribal identity and their cultural pride.

Anyway, the story around home was that one of the Wolf Guts brothers had agreed to Anglicize his name, but chose only “Guts” to be his new name. This, of course, didn’t set well with his would-be assimilators, and he was not bothered anymore to abandon his honored Lakota name.

I hope this article will encourage some discussion on preserving the integrity of our cherished language and the traditional Lakota names, not only for the benefit of Iyeskas like me, but for the benefit and pride of all of us.

Charles Trimble, Oglala Lakota, was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was principal founder of the American Indian Press Association in 1970, and served as executive director of the National Congress of American Indians from 1972-78.

The Tribe In The Media: NY Wants License Fee For Aqueduct VLT Slot Parlor

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This article of The Tribe In The Media is a New London Day article on the upcoming deadline and terms required for groups to submit bids to build and run a VLT slot parlor in at the Queens, NY, Aqueduct racetrack.

Mohegan Sun weighing N.Y. licensing fee
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
April 24, 2009

Mohegan Sun executives, who are expected to submit a bid to build and operate a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the New York City borough, are studying New York state's plan to fast-track the project, which includes providing $250 million worth of construction financing.

New York's request for proposals, issued late last week, calls for bidders to offer an upfront licensing fee, a provision that led to the undoing of Delaware North Companies, the Buffalo, N.Y., firm chosen to build the casino in an initial round of bids last year. In March, however, Delaware North withdrew its plan, informing New York Gov. David Paterson's office that it was unable to make the $370 million upfront payment it had offered.

According to the agreement the winning bidder would now have to sign with New York officials, the licensing fee would have to be paid within 10 days of the document's signing. No minimum bid for the fee has been established.

“We're running models of the competitive landscape and haven't decided whether to provide a bid,” Jeffrey Hartmann, chief operating officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which manages Mohegan Sun, said Thursday. He added, however, “We believe we have the best understanding of the Northeast gaming market.”

The Mohegan authority partnered with Capital Play, a New York company, in submitting its earlier bid, which was one of three finalists. Hartmann said the authority has not decided whether to partner with another entity on a new bid.

Hartmann said New York's latest request for proposals was substantially the same as the earlier one. However, it does not provide an option for bidders interested only in building and managing the casino as opposed to owning it, which is likely to keep the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's Foxwoods Development Co. from entering the fray, Gary Armentrout, Foxwoods Development's president, said Thursday.

“New York contemplates that the winner (of the bidding process) would own and operate the facility,” Armentrout said. “They're looking at a $3 million upfront payment just to be considered, as well as the upfront licensing fee and effectively a 78 percent tax rate. Based on that, it's not likely that we're going to participate this time around.”

Foxwoods Development did submit a bid for a state-owned, Foxwoods-managed casino in the initial round of bids.

Delaware North had planned to build a casino that included 4,500 video lottery terminals, which are similar to slot machines; restaurants; a hotel and a 60,000-square-foot conference center. The New York Racing Association has the franchise to operate Aqueduct's horse racing.

Hartmann said he expected the economic conditions and a “tight time frame” — proposals are due May 8 — to limit responses to a handful of bidders.

Delaware North, which is expected to come forward again, has been accused of breach of contract in a New York state Supreme Court suit filed by SL Green Realty Corp., its one-time partner in a group called Empire Racing. SL Green also is expected to participate in the Aqueduct rebidding.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Photos: Last Weekend's Paugusett Powwow

Kicking Bear Piper carrying Eagle staff. The Paugusett Tribe is one of Connecticut's state recognized tribes.

Tribal Member Aaron Athey To Emcee At CCSU Powwow On Saturday

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Two powwows in New England are coming up:

1) Mohegan Tribal member Aaron Athey will be the Emcee this Saturday at the Coyote Clan Powwow to be held at Central Connecticut State University at 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, Connecticut. The powwow is from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

2) Aaron Athey will also be the Arena Director for the Dartmouth Powwow in Hanover, New Hampshire on May 9-10. The Native Americans at Dartmouth and the Native American Program have hosted the annual Dartmouth Pow-Wow since 1973. For more information contact the Native American Program at Dartmouth College at(603) 646-2110.

Tamika Raymond Leaves Connecticut Sun

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The Associated Press reported today that Connecticut Sun forward Tamika Raymond won't be returning to the basketball team this season. The WNBA Connecticut Sun basketball team is owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.

Raymond was acquired by the Sun last March but will be taking the year off to focus on her assistant coaching job at the University of Kansas. Raymond played in all of the Connecticut Sun's games last season.

The Connecticut Sun finished last season with a record of 21-13 before losing in the playoffs to the New York Liberty.

The Connecticut Sun's first game of the upcoming regular season is at the Mohegan Sun Arena on June 6th against the Washington Mystics.

The Tribes In The Media: Menominee Tribe Withdraws Lawsuit

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article in the Milwaukee Business Journal about the Menominee Tribe's withdrawal of a lawsuit against the federal government's decision to reject the Tribe's plan for a casino that would have been developed and managed by the Mohegan Tribe. The Mohegans have spent at least $12 million thus far on the project. The Mohegan Tribe has also spent about $25 million on a proposed Cowlitz Tribe casino in Washington state that has yet to receive federal approval and whose fate is uncertain.

Menominee pushing casino plan out of court
The Business Journal of Milwaukee
April 10, 2009

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin has voluntarily withdrawn its lawsuit against the federal government regarding rejection of its proposal to build an $808 million off-reservation Indian casino in Kenosha, but it is not backing off the plan.

Evan Zeppos, a spokesman for the tribe, noted that tribe will reserve the right to refile the lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior if the agency doesn't decide to reverse its decision. The tribe had sued claiming the decision-making process that led to the rejection of its application to take the Dairyland Greyhound Park property into federal trust was unjust.

Zeppos said the tribe has determined it prudent to engage in a dialogue with the new Obama Administration rather than try to litigate its demands.

The tribe intends to refile its lawsuit if the Interior does not withdraw a guidance memorandum issued in January 2008 that formed the basis for the application denial and reverses its decision, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in federal court March 30. The tribe said it is awaiting a decision from the agency on the withdrawal of that memorandum.

In January 2009, then-Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne rejected the tribe's application, a decision the tribe called "arbitrary, capricious, and unlawful."

Kempthorne, who had made clear his opposition to off-reservation Indian gaming, issued new guidelines for approving such projects in January 2008 that asserted that the farther a casino site is located from a tribe’s reservation, the greater the harm to the reservation.

Shortly after the guidelines were announced in January 2008, nearly a dozen off-reservation casino proposals were rejected by the agency for that reason.

Tomorrow's Tribal Council Meeting Canceled

Monday, April 20, 2009

Second Legislative Committee Approves Bill To Ban Smoking At Casinos

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The state of Connecticut's Government Administration & Elections Committee voted 8-3 today to approve a bill that would ban smoking at the two Indian casinos in Connecticut.

This is the second time a bill has been approved by a committee of Connecticut lawmakers. Two months ago, the legislature's Public Health Committee voted 28-2 for a bill that would require both the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos to be smoke-free by October 2011.

In today's action, the eight legislators voting to approve the bill were all Democrats and the three legislators who voted against the bill were Republicans. The bill that came out of today's committee also seeks to ban smoking by 2011. The bill also mandates that casino liquor licenses not be renewed if the tribes do not enter into negotiations with the governor.

Both tribes said that a state law that would ban smoking is a violation of their sovereignty and have threatened lawsuits and possibly withholding the state's 25 percent take on the two tribes' slot machine revenues. The state receives about $400 million combined from both Indian casinos based on that slot revenue formula.

Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said that agreements between the state and the tribes established "firm conditions on the operation of the casinos to which the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegans agreed." The state banned smoking in restaurants an workplaces with more than five people in October 2003 and expanded the ban to bars in April 2004.

The bill approved today will be forwarded to Connecticut's House of Representatives for consideration.

Part II of "We Shall Remain" Tonight On PBS At 9 PM

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Part II of the film series "We Shall Remain" will air tonight at 9 p.m. on PBS. Tonight's segment is "Tecumseh's Vision," "tells the story of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh and his brother, Tenskwatawa, known as the Prophet. In the years following the American Revolution, the Prophet led a spiritual revival movement that drew thousands of followers from tribes across the Midwest. His brother forged a pan-Indian political and military alliance from that movement, coming closer than anyone since to creating an independent Indian state."

Photos: Paugusett Powwow

More photos to come ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Events This Weekend

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Several events will be held this weekend that may be of interest to our readers:

1) The Spring meeting of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut will be held on Saturday at the Essex Town Hall. The Spring meeting serves as the Ct. Archaeological Society's annual meeting in addition to a forum that includes speakers on archaeology and time for socializing and sharing archaeological information. Registration ($10 for non-members) begins at 9 a.m. with coffee and donuts; 9:15 announcement by Dan Cruson who is the ASC president; 9:30 state archeologist Nick Bellantoni "With a Spade and a Shovel"; 10:00 Cosimo Sgarlata "Intra-Site Spatial Analysis and the Study of Human Cultural Evolution in New England's Archaoic and Woodland Societies"; 10:30 Ernest Wiegand "Between a Rock and a Wet Place: The Use of Rockshelters in Southwestern Connecticut"; Jeff Kalin "Talking Flakes"; 11:30 - 1;00 Lunch; 12:40 - 1:00 ASC Business Meeting; 1:00 Diana Messer, Daniel Cruson "Back to the Park: Another Look at an Enlisted Men's Hut at the Putnam Winter (Memorial State Park)" 1:30 David Robinson "Underwater Archaeology in Connecticut: Past, Present and Future"; 2:00 Robert Stewart "Archaeology and the Industrial Revolution"; 2:30 Ryan Hewey and Warren Perry "Negrotown: An Archaeology of African Agency from Colonial Connecticut" 3:00 - 4:00 Reception.

2) A discussion on the discovery of spear points in Madison will be discussed at Madison's Scranton Library on Saturday from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. The schedule for the afternoon is: 1:00 Smudging Ceremony by Al Saunders (Mohegan); 2:00 Welcoming Remarks by Dale Carson (Abenaki) and Don Rankin (Cherokee); 2:05 Gathering Drum Song (Mohegan); 2:10 Artifacts donated to tribes by Henry Golet; 2:15 Gary Nolf "Remarks about the atlatl"; 2:30 Don Rankin "Connecticut Native American History" and following Don's presentation will be the special guest speaker Connecticut State Archaeologist Nick Bellantoni.

3) Paugusett Powwow on Saturday and Sunday at the Haddam Town Beach from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Grand Entry at noon. Entrance fee $3 for adults, $2.50 for senior citizens and free admission for children under 12. See article below this for directions and more event information.

4) Light the Lodge powwow on Sunday at Gampel Pavilion on the UConn Storrs Campus from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Grand Entry at noon. The powwow will feature Native American dancing, singing and traditional crafts. The Mystic River Drum, Quabbin Lake Drum and Northern Coup Singers Drum Circle will be at the powwow. Admission is free.

5) Okay, Monday is not the weekend but on Monday morning is a workshop at the New London Custom House Maritime Museum on "Oral History for Museums, Libraries and Archives" from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Paugusett Indian Powwow This Weekend

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The Golden Hill Paugusett Tribe powwow is this Saturday and Sunday at the Haddam Town Beach from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. both days. Grand entry is at noon.

The entry fee is $3 for adults, $2.50 for senior citizens and free for children under age 12. Camping is available.

Directions from Uncasville:
Rte. 2 toward Hartford
Take Exit 18, Take Left onto Rte. 16
Take Rte. 16 to Traffic Light
Take Left at Traffic Light onto Rte. 149
Take Left onto Mott Lane
Take Right at end of Mott Lane onto East Haddam-Colchester Turnpike
Beach is a short distance ahead

Mohegan Sun March Slot Revenue Declines About 15%; Foxwoods Increases 1%

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The Mohegan Sun casino reported a 14.6 percent drop in its slot machine revenue for the month of March compared to March of 2008 while Foxwoods slot revenue increased 1.3 percent in March.

Mohegan Sun's percentage of the total Connecticut market share of March slot revenues dropped significantly for the second straight month. Mohegan's slot machine market share was 51.6 percent this March compared to 55.8 percent in March of 2009.

The total Connecticut market share for slot revenue in March was $127.2 million (comprised of $65.6 million for Mohegan Sun and $61.6 million for Foxwoods) whereas the year before in March 2008 the total spent at the slots at both casinos was $137.5 million (comprised of $76.7 million for Mohegan Sun and $60.8 million for Foxwoods).

March was the second consecutive month of slot revenue increases recorded at Foxwoods casino.

The amount of free slot play for March has not yet been posted to the state of Connecticut's website but for the month of February, Foxwoods gave out substantially more free slot play to its customers. In February, Foxwoods gave out approximately $3.9 million in free slot play, or approximately eight times the amount given away by the Mohegan Sun in free slot play ($450,000).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mohegan Gaming Authority To Issue 2nd Quarter Income Statement On April 30

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The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority issued a press release today stating that it will speak with financial analysts on April 30 concerning its second quarter operating results.

The second quarter that MTGA will cover on April 30th is the three-month period from January 1, 2009 through March 31, 2009.

In its first quarter, covering October 2008 through December 2008, MTGA announced that it lost almost $4 million ($3.8 million).

Foxwoods Officials Chased Out Of Philly Casino Meeting

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A presentation by Foxwoods officials last week at a meeting held by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board ended with the Foxwoods officials leaving through a back door when protesters blocked the aisles leading to the exits.

The public meeting was held so that the gaming board could be updated on the plans for two Philadelphia slot parlor in the city. Foxwoods has chosen yet another site and the protesters asked for more information, heckling the officials according to reports.

The two slot parlors planned for Philadelphia include Foxwoods and the SugarHouse. It was reported that about 50 protester heckled the officials and carried signs.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the two slot parlors but the investors have had difficulties with city officials and residents. Foxwoods has settled on a center city site after two other proposed locations upset city residents. SugarHouse has selected a site on the Delaware River close to the center of Philadelphia.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Larry Echohawk To Be Nominated Next BIA Chief

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Pawnee Indian Larry EchoHawk will be nominated to become the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which falls under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Interior.

The Senate Indian Affairs committee must approve the nomination for Echohawk to get the job.

Echohawk served previously as Idaho's attorney general (1991-1995) and is currently a law professor at Brigham Young University. EchoHawk's brother, John, is the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund.

In announcing the Echohawk nomination, President Barack Obama said, "Our success in rebuilding America and laying the groundwork for a safer, more prosperous future depends in no small part on the talent, expertise, and dedication of public servants like these men and women. I am confident that each of them will meet and exceed the high standard that the American people expect and deserve."

"We Shall Remain" Series Begins Tonight At 9 PM On PBS

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The first of five parts of "We Shall Remain" airs tonight at 9 PM on Public Broadcasting System channels. Tonight's segment, "After the Mayflower," documents the contact between the English colonists and the Wampanoag Tribe.

The film chronicles the 1621 meeting between the colonists and Massasoit, the sachem of the Wampanoag Tribe, through the war waged by Indians from many tribes in the 1675-1676 under the leadership of Massasoit's son, Metacom (also known as King Philip).

More info at:

Photos: Mohegan Sun Earth Entrance Corridor Work In Progress

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Tribes In The Media: Mashantucket Tribal Chairman's Defense

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a New London Day newspaper article providing details on a bank loan provided to the chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

Tribal Chairman claims bank Bribed Him
By David Collins
The Day
April 12, 2009

Was Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council Chairman Michael Thomas offered a bribe, in the form of an unsecured $1 million line of credit, by Sovereign Bank, as it courted the tribe's lucrative casino banking business five years ago?

This is what Thomas asserts in paperwork his lawyers have filed in a Superior Court lawsuit in which Sovereign is trying to reclaim the proceeds of the loan, which over time, with addendums, grew into a $5.2 million line of credit.

The bank says Thomas is in default on the loan for not making payments and now owes more than $6.5 million, including penalties and interest, an amount that is growing at the rate of $1,769 a day.

The bank, according to Thomas, made the loan “with the intent to influence or reward an agent of an Indian tribal government” in violation of federal statutes. Thomas doesn't use the word bribe, but the statute he cites does.

And since the loan was made “against public policy” and with the intent to “violate the law,” the loan documents are void, the argument goes, and therefore Thomas cannot be compelled to pay the money back.

Calls to the tribal chairman's office last week requesting comment about the lawsuit and the claims he has made in his defense were not returned.

Austin J. McGuigan, a former chief state's attorney whose Hartford law firm, Rome & McGuigan, is representing Sovereign, takes a dim view of this creative defense crafted by Thomas' lawyers.

”Any allegation of wrongdoing in this matter is groundless,” the gruff former prosecutor said when asked about the bribery claim.

Still, you have to wonder what the bankers at Sovereign were thinking when they offered to give Thomas an unsecured loan for $1 million. I'm sure that, in hindsight, a lot of people at the bank are asking that question.

Not only does the lawsuit suggest that Thomas may have turned out to be a bad credit risk, but it has shaken out a strange cast of characters with whom the tribal chairman has been doing business, some of them marquee criminal names in Connecticut.

The bank loan to Thomas, as it grew in size over time, was eventually secured by a mortgage of a 12-acre commercial property at Route 12 and Gungywamp Road in Groton, property Thomas' associates had planned to develop into a 118-unit apartment project.

According to Sovereign, the investors with an interest in that property include some of the principal characters in the collapse of Colonial Realty in the 1990s, Connecticut's own Madoff-style Ponzi scheme in which local investors lost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Among those with an interest in the Groton property that was put up to secure Thomas' loan, the bank said in court papers, are Jonathan Googel, a Colonial founder who pleaded guilty in federal court to wire fraud, bank fraud and tax fraud; Kevin Sisti, the son of another Colonial founder, who pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge for taking loan proceeds for his father, and William P. Candelori, a former state lawmaker and Colonial executive, who pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion.

These and others have all been named in new complaints filed in Sovereign's suit against Thomas, which is drawing defendants and their lawyers like cloud banks to a gathering storm.

“It's a laundry list of convicted felons,” one person familiar with the case said of the growing list of defendants.

That includes Thomas himself, who was convicted as a young man on drug-dealing charges in Rhode Island.

Helping Thomas with advice about the Sovereign loan and other personal business matters, according to people familiar with the Sovereign case, is none other than Daniel Gordon, one of eastern Connecticut's most notorious white-collar criminals.

In a case that prosecutors called astonishing for its sophistication and brazenness, Gordon, a Norwich native, was accused of embezzling $43 million from Merrill Lynch when he was a top energy trader for the firm.

Gordon, who used some of the money to buy the Norwich-based Daticon electronic data company, pleaded guilty in 2003 to three felony counts related to the embezzlement.

He was released early from prison last spring.

As if Sovereign wasn't having a tough enough time collecting its money, it turns out the Groton property that was mortgaged to secure Thomas' loan may have already had a mortgage on it. The bank has filed a separate lawsuit against that entity to try to secure its interest in the property.

The bank is also embroiled in another of Thomas' defenses, this one claiming that the person the bank took to be his representative was actually fraudulently drawing down money from the Sovereign line of credit without Thomas' knowledge.

This Thomas associate, Billy Hadley, a Norwich real estate agent, has also been named as a defendant.

Paul Geraghty, his lawyer, claims, however, that Thomas had “given Mr. Hadley authority to handle business transactions on his behalf” and the claims that he fraudulently drew down money from the line of credit are not true.

One bright spot for Sovereign, in their legal wrangle to get their money back, is that a Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court judge has granted the bank an attachment on Thomas' property on the reservation. This could help them collect if they eventually get a judgment from the court in their favor.

As for Thomas' claim that the bank gave him a bribe when they lent him the money, it seems to suggest that, by the same turn of events, that he accepted one.

I wonder what gaming regulators in Pennsylvania will think of all of this, bribes and criminal associations, when Thomas' gaming license, part of the tribe's pursuit of a share in a Philadelphia casino, comes up for its annual review for renewal.


Friday, April 10, 2009

Mohegan Archeaology Field School June 22 - July 31

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A unique opportunity exists for tribal members to study archaeology on the Mohegan homelands and even receive college credits from a state university for the course.

Tribal members and non-tribal students will learn side-by-side in a six-week course that will include time spent both in the classroom and out in the field on the Mohegan Reservation. In its 15th year, this year's course may be the last time members can participate with Mohegan Archeaologist Dr. Jeff Bendremer.

What better way to get a feel for how your ancestors lived and how Mohegans evolved over time. Students will also interact with the Tribe’s dedicated archaeology staff, an informed group that has spent much time excavating Mohegan sites and studying the Tribe’s history. The class begins on June 22 and ends on July 31.

The exciting news for Mohegans is that there is still be room in the course for new students. Your participation will not only be worth 6 college credits from Eastern Connecticut State University – if you choose - but will contribute to the Tribe’s efforts to better understand Mohegan life-ways, trade, warfare, belief systems, subsistence and economics. No previous coursework or experience is required.

Students will also have the opportunity to examine many artifacts recovered from past excavations, including pottery, pipes, wampum beads and projectile points (arrowheads). Part of this collection has come from archaeologists who have dug on Mohegan homelands a half-century ago and earlier.

Besides learning excavation techniques, artifact processing and Mohegan Indian history, the program concentrates on exploring the relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans through lectures and speakers that include scholars and dignitaries from local tribes.

This year’s course will mark the 15th year of what is called the Eastern Connecticut State University Archaeological Field School, making it one of the oldest field collaborations with an Indian tribal government, according to the Tribe. Each project is authorized by the Mohegan Council of Elders and operates under the supervision of the Mohegan Cultural and Community Programs Department.

Dr. Bendremer worked on the Mohegan Reservation as a volunteer for five years, beginning in 1994, and was later hired by the tribe in 1999. Before that, Dr. Bendremer had worked with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and has participated in numerous excavations of Indian sites in Connecticut. Mohegan archaeology department staff will impart their knowledge of the Mohegan culture and experiences digging at various sites on the Reservation.

The course starts soon so call email Dr. Bendremer at to request an information packet.

While students learn they are also contributing to the Tribe’s need for manpower in excavating sites on the current and former Mohegan lands. Tribal members are encouraged to participate.

18th Annual Light the Lodge Powwow At UConn April 19

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The 18th Annual Light the Lodge Powwow will be held at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus on Sunday, April 19. The event will be in the Gampel Pavilion on campus. The powwow will feature Native American dancing, singing and traditional crafts. The Mystic River Drum, Quabbin Lake Drum and Northern Coup Singers Drum Circle will be at the powwow. The powwow is from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Grand entry begins at noon. Admission is free.

The address for the Gampel Pavilion is: University of Connecticut (Storrs campus),2096 Hillside Road, Storrs, Connecticut.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Photo: Daffodils In The Spring

Government Office Could Close Early On Friday

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Tomorrow, Good Friday, is not an official holiday for the Mohegan Tribal government but employees could be let go early. So, if you have business to conduct at the Tribe's offices try to do it early.

The Tribe In The Media: NY Times Article On Tribe's Deal With Yankees

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in today's New York Times about the controversy generated by the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in the new New York Yankees baseball stadium.

Mohegan Sun’s View: Don’t Blame Us
By Richard Sandomir
New York Times
April 9, 2009

The view from behind the tinted windows of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar in the center-field bleachers of the new Yankee Stadium is a lovely, unimpeded one.

If Jeffrey Maier had interfered with Tony Tarasco’s attempt to catch Derek Jeter’s home run in the 1996 American League Championship Series in the current stadium, fans in Section 239 would have seen it — but only on the television sets embedded in the walls.

All this rightly concerns Mitchell Etess, the president and chief executive of the Mohegan Sun. The hotel and casino, based in Uncasville, Conn., was already a Yankees sponsor and extended its presence last May with a naming rights deal through 2011 for the sports bar.

“We don’t want to be held responsible for the impact the facility has on the view of seats there,” Etess said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “We had no say in the construction of the Stadium, and I’m certain that this was designed long before we made the deal.” The Mohegan Sun has nothing to do with the running or the profits of the sports bar; it only has its name on it.

Etess said it wasn’t until recently — “along with everyone else” — that he learned the sports bar was part of the bleacher protrusion that will obscure the views of up to 1,048 fans. For their trouble, the Yankees belatedly cut prices in Sections 201 and 239 to $5 (all others pay $12 to $14).

Alice McGillion, a Yankees spokeswoman, said Etess almost certainly was not told of the shadow that would be caused by the sports bar/bleacher cafe. “Since there are no obstructed seats in the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, it wouldn’t necessarily have come up,” she said.

But the reality that the Mohegan’s name would be on the 4,900-square-foot sports bar that blocks fans’ views is a material fact that should have been disclosed by the Yankees and also pursued by the hotel-casino — especially because it’s not cheap to buy the naming rights. The Yankees and the Mohegan Sun would not disclose the price of the deal.

Jim Andrews, a senior vice president of IEG, a sponsorship research, valuation and consulting company in Chicago, said that the minimum price was probably $1 million but that the “multiplier for new Yankee Stadium was probably two or three, so it’s probably $2 million or more.” But, he added, “You’re not paying to be associated with an obstructed view.”

He said he was surprised that the Mohegan Sun didn’t demand to see how the sports bar/bleacher cafe would be built. “If I’m the Mohegan Sun, I’m not happy,” Andrews said.

Ross Sheingold, who runs the New Stadium Insider blog, said by e-mail that the Yankees, not the Mohegan Sun, were to blame. “The Yankees are likely too stubborn to do this,” he wrote, “but it might not be a bad idea to tear the sports bar down and go back to the drawing board.”

Randy Levine, the Yankees’ president, said, “I don’t think so,” when asked if the team would take those 1,048 seats out of circulation, paint them black and expand the batter’s eye.

He said the team could have had no seats or unobstructed ones in that area. “The decision was to do obstructed seats — those few seats — and we’re pleased,” he said. “They’ve sold out.”

The goal was to cash in on the center-field expanse that the Yankees had not monetized in the old stadium where the batter’s eye was. Having cut the original $12 list price of those 1,048 seats by $7 will mean losing about $600,000 this season if all 81 home games sell out.

But that will be more than made up by revenue from the sports bar’s rights fees, food and beverage sales, tickets ($90 to $95 each) and memberships (of a price not yet announced) to certain season-ticket holders, and from the concession sales at the bleacher cafe.

The team is certain that its fans are happy with $5 seats in these recessionary times. “People like you might have a problem, but fans are eating them up,” Levine said. “They’re in phenomenal demand, at $5. The average paying customers don’t have a problem yet.”

Yet. Only fans who attended the two exhibition games against the Cubs last Friday and Saturday could judge the views, and not all were pleased. The real test will start on opening day next Thursday. Will fans paying $5 accept the discount view for the discount price? And will they try to ameliorate the obstructions by wandering to the terrace at the bleacher cafe for a better vista?

Last Friday, security hustled fans lingering on the terrace back to their seats after they bought their food. But Levine said: “They can stand in the terrace as long as they want. There are no hall monitors.” But, he said, if too many fans stand there, safety concerns might lead security to direct people back to their seats. “It’s a common-sense approach.”

Bartenders Reject Union At Foxwoods

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Foxwoods' Beverage workers and bartenders voted against affiliating with the United Food and Commercial Workers union yesterday by a vote of 207-133.

After yesterday's secret ballot results, union officials said they would continue their organizing efforts at Foxwoods.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Voting Rights Court Hearing Decision To Be Issued Soon

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A tribal court hearing on the voting rights case of Kenneth Davison v. The Mohegan Tribe Election Committee was held on Monday and a decision is expected soon as to whether the case will go to trial.

In that hearing, the Defendants (the election committee and the Tribe) argued their motion for a summary judgment and the Plaintiff, Ken Davison, argued his objection to that motion. A summary judgment is basically a motion in which a party submits evidence and a legal analysis as to why that party should win the case.

Davison, arguing the case without an attorney, needed to raise enough issues in the hearing that would cast doubt on the Defendants' legal analysis in order for the judge to decide whether a trial is needed.

In the case Davison asserts, among other things, that requiring Tribal members to vote for all seats up for election is a violation of Tribal members' free speech rights and also violates the Constitution's voting clause which states that voters "shall be entitled to cast one vote for each elective position available."

The Defendants assert, in part, that requiring members to vote for all elective positions would prevent "unrestrained factionalism."

UConn Women Win NCAA Basketball Championship

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The University of Connecticut women's basketball team clinched the NCAA championship for the fifth time this decade, and sixth time in the team's history, after beating Louisville last night by a score 76-54. The UConn women finished the season with an unbeaten record (39-0).

Connecticut basketball fans will have to wait two months for the WNBA professional basketball season to begin. The Tribe's Connecticut Sun basketball team, which includes former UConn players, will play its first regular season game on June 6.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mohegan Wigwam Date Set For August 15th

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The Mohegan Wigwam is scheduled for Saturday, August 15th. The wigwam celebration is scheduled to be a one-day event this year.

In other news, the Mashantucket Pequot Nation has not yet set a date for this year's Schemitzun and rumors are circulating that they may not hold a Schemitzun this year.

The Tribe In The Media: Washington Newspaper Doubtful On Cowlitz Casin

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Today's installment of The Tribe In The Media is an editorial in The Columbian, a Washington newspaper, that casts doubt on the Cowlitz casino project in Washington State. The Mohegan Tribe has a development and casino management agreement with the Cowlitz Tribe. The Mohegans have spent at least $20 million to $25 million thus far on the proposed Cowlitz project.

County’s expected vote tonight will add negative momentum to casino effort
The Columbian newspaper
April 7, 2009

Clark County commissioners are expected to take yet another step away from a proposed Cowlitz tribal casino Tuesday night when they vote on a rescission of a 2004 memorandum of understanding with the tribe. Two commissioners — Marc Boldt and Tom Mielke — have been critical of the MOU, and they likely will kill the agreement at Tuesday's meeting. (Steve Stuart on Friday declined to discuss the issue).

Actually, the decision could be seen as a postmortem, for a couple of reasons. The Cowlitz Tribal Council voted Saturday to rescind the MOU, and we don't see any way this can be handled as a unilateral "agreement" (we'll address a second unilateral matter later in this editorial). Second, it's hard to kill an MOU that essentially died two years ago when a state hearings board ruled the agreement was invalid.

And here's a third point to mention as last rites are pronounced on the ill-advised pact : All three commissioners who signed the 2004 MOU (Judie Stanton, Craig Pridemore and Betty Sue Morris, none of whom is still serving as a county commissioner) have expressed anti-casino sentiments.

Need a fourth reason to call the coroner? Last year, on April 7, Morris, Stuart and Boldt unanimously approved a resolution declaring "our opposition to the development of a major commercial gaming facility in the unincorporated area of Clark County." And as we editorialized at the time, "That sounds pretty much like a 'No!' to us …"

But make no mistake about the significance of the Tuesday vote. Even though the MOU became a nonfactor many months ago, this vote will add to the negative momentum that has grown to massive proportions. And that is a good thing for Clark County. A mega-casino would bring intense and widespread negative influences on the local quality of life. The number of local governments and business groups that have opposed the casino is approaching double digits, while there has been little to no meaningful support from any official group, only individuals.

Local residents should feel bolstered by the MOU's death, especially after a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 24, which severely limited the federal government's authority to take land into trust for Indian tribes.

The Cowlitz will continue to point to a gaming ordinance as evidence that the county's best interests are protected. The tribe has enacted the ordinance that was issued for the tribe by the National Indian Gaming Commission in 2005. But this is the second unilateral agreement that we mentioned earlier. The gaming ordinance is not an agreement between the tribe and the county. It is only a list of commitments the tribe has made to the county, a list approved by the federal agency that has "Indian Gaming" in its name. It is uncertain if that ordinance will affect the tribe's pending application for reservation status.

It remains to be seen how high an obstacle has been erected against the casino by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Also unknown is whether Congress will enact legislation that could affect that ruling. A third unknown is how the Obama administration and new Interior Secretary Ken Salazar feel about tribal casinos.

But two facts are well known: For the time being, the casino's chances appear to be fading, fortunately. And that is cause for local residents to feel even more proud of Clark County.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

UConn Women's Basketball Team Going To NCAA Championship Game

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The University of Connecticut's women's basketball team beat Stanford on Sunday night by a score of 83-64 which will propel the team into Tuesday's NCAA championship game.

The UConn women's team, so far undefeated at 38-0 for the season, will play against Louisville for the championship.

In other basketball news, the UConn men's team lost in the NCAA semi-final game on Saturday.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Voting Rights Case Hearing In Mohegan Tribal Court On Moday 2 PM

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The hearing on the voting rights case of Kenneth Davison v. Mohegan Tribe Election Committee and other defendants will be held Monday, April 6, in the Mohegan Tribal Court. Tribal members are welcome to attend the hearing.

In that case Davison asserts, among other things, that requiring Tribal members to vote for all seats up for election is a violation of Tribal members' free speech rights and also violates the Constitution's voting clause which states that voters "shall be entitled to cast one vote for each elective position available."

Many Tribal members have said they feel they shouldn't be required to vote for all seats up for election. For instance, in an election in which four seats are up for election, those tribal members who want to vote for one, two or three candidates are required to vote for all four positions in order for their ballot to be counted. This case challenges that requirement.

In the past two election run-offs in 2007 and 2008, Davison voted for three candidates on each ballot. Both ballots were rejected because Davison did not vote for all four elective positions available in each run-off election. Davison filed the lawsuit last September. The judge has since denied the defendant's attempt to have the voting case dismissed.

The defendants in the lawsuit, the Mohegan Tribe Election Committee and the Mohegan Tribe, submitted a motion for summary judgment at the end of February and the plaintiff, Ken Davison, later filed an objection to their motion in addition to a motion seeking to strike evidence cited in the defendants' motion.

The April 6 hearing will focus on these submissions and if the judge decides in Davison's favor, then the case will next proceed to trial.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Photo: Accident Near Crow Hill

Police officer telling drivers headed northbound on Route 32 in Uncasville that the road is closed off and they must turn around and go south due to an accident today near the Sandy Desert Road intersection that reportedly involved a Mohegan Sun bus and another vehicle.

UPDATE: According to the Norwich Bulletin's Saturday edition: "Montville police indicates a car traveling north on Route 32 drove through a red light at Sandy Desert Road and struck a Mohegan Sun van as it was pulling on to Route 32. The impact sent the car, with three occupants, off Route 32 and through a fence at a residence across from Sandy Desert Road, police said. At least two people were transported to the hospital Friday afternoon

Indian Law Conference At Harvard Law School On April 6

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The following news item was forwarded by a Tribal member:

Indian Law Conference at Harvard Law School on April 6, 2009

Tribal Justice: The Supreme Court and the Future of Federal Indian Law
Monday, April 6, 2009
Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

The Supreme Court’s treatment of American Indians has long been viewed as uniquely reflective of the rise and fall of our shared democratic faith. A flurry of recent cases has signaled to Native nations a disturbing paradigm shift - that of a judiciary now openly hostile to tribal interests. This timely conference brings together leading scholars and practitioners for a frank discussion regarding the impact the Roberts Court is having on Indian Country.


- A. Raymond Halbritter, Representative, Oneida Indian Nation

- N. Bruce Duthu, Professor of Native American Studies, Dartmouth College
- Steven Paul McSloy, Co-chair, Native American Practice Group, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
- Robert Odawi Porter, Professor of Law, Syracuse University
- Alexander Tallchief Skibine, S.J. Quinney Professor of Law, University of Utah
- Lorie M. Graham, Professor of Law, Suffolk University (Moderator)

- Bethany Berger, Oneida Indian Nation Visiting Professor of Law, Harvard University
- Gavin Clarkson, Associate Professor of Law, University of Houston
- Douglas J. Luckerman, Tribal Attorney
- Joseph William Singer, Bussey Professor of Law, Harvard University
- Rebecca Tsosie, Professor of Law, Arizona State University
- Richard Guest, Co-director, Supreme Court Project, Native American Rights Fund (Moderator)

Philip “Sam” Deloria, Director, American Indian Graduate Center, Inc.

Harvard Native American Law Students Association
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, Harvard Law School
Harvard University Native American Program
Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations
Native Americans at Harvard College
Committee on Indigeneity, Migration, Ethnicity, and Human Rights, Harvard University
Native American Caucus, John F. Kennedy School of Government

Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP

Photo: Downtown Palmer

The Tribe In The Media: Mohegan Not Scaling Back Massachusetts Casino Proposal

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is the latest article describing the Mohegan Tribe's scope of a gaming facility the Tribe would like to build someday in Massachusetts if lawmakers there ever legalize slot machines or casinos.

Casino resort proposed
By Jim Kinney
The Republican
April 3, 2009

SPRINGFIELD - The people who run Mohegan Sun are pushing hard for what they describe as a "resort-style" casino in Palmer, despite a poor economy that had Mohegan Sun cutting pay across the board in Connecticut over the winter.

"The recession will end," said Jeffrey E. Hartmann, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority.

"We believe this could grow to be a $9.5 billion market here in New England and the Northeast," he said.

Hartmann said most employees lost 4 percent of their pay, some senior managers lost 7.5 percent and vice presidents took a 10 percent cut as the casino struggled to pay for a recently completed expansion in the face of falling revenues. Revenue at the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Conn., fell 2 percent to $1.49 billion in 2008, according to a University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth study. Revenues at rival Foxwoods Resort Casino near Ledyard, Conn., dropped by 4.7 percent to $1.45 billion in 2008, according to the same study.

The $1 billion casino Mohegan Sun wants to build near Massachusetts Turnpike Exit 8 in Palmer would draw from as far west as Albany, N.Y., and the Catskills, Hartmann said.

"We believe those areas are underserved," he said.

Hartmann and a team including vice president of development Paul I. Brody and Leon H. Dragone, part of the group that owns the 150-acre site Mohegan Sun hopes to use, met Thursday with The Republican's editorial board. This morning, they'll take their case to area lawmakers by hosting a breakfast meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Springfield.

Mohegan Sun will open an informational office in downtown Palmer by the end of the month and staff it three days a week, Hartmann said.

State House Speaker Robert E. DeLeo, D-Winthrop, said this week that the Legislature will likely take up the casino gambling issue later this legislative session.

Last year, the state House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly against Gov. Deval L. Patrick's bill to license three casinos in the state. In March, Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill floated the idea of licensing slot machines only because they would be quicker to set up and slots are the most popular games at casinos anyway.

But Mohegan Sun wants a casino with table games such as poker, and amenities such as a planned 600-room hotel, restaurants and name-brand shopping.

"We are focused on creating a resort-style casino at the Palmer location," Hartmann said. He wouldn't say that his company would never operate a slots-only casino, just that the resort model would be preferable.

Mohegan Sun operates Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania because that was all Pennsylvania law would allow.

"That was a diversification play for us," he said.

Brody said Mohegan Sun could get a casino built in Palmer within 18 months. But it might have to build the facility in stages if the casino can't borrow enough capital to build it all at one time.

"We'll have to see what the capital markets are doing," Brody said.

Mohegan Sun Sports Bar At Yankee Stadium Gets Publicity

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The Mohegan Sun will have a new marketing gimmick this baseball season. A bar in the new New York Yankees baseball stadium will have the casino's name on it and, even though the seasons hasn't started yet, it is already generating publicity.

Yesterday the public got its first close-up view of the $2 billion stadium in the Bronx, watching the team at batting practice.

According to a New York Times article, one fan asks, "Is there a way in which fans can lobby the stadium to fix the construction of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar since it nearly halves the view for ticket holders?

One insider responded by saying, "It’s not like the Yankees did not know what they were doing when they cut capacity, or the Yankees were unaware of the architectural impediment the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar would create. I think this is where you have to follow the money: the team is likely to dramatically offset the slashing of prices for the 1,048 obstructed-view seats from $12 to $5 with the Mohegan’s business."

The Village Voice newspaper says, "As for those obstructed-view seats in the bleachers, meanwhile, they're every bit as bad as the computer renderings showed; in fact, even the back rows of adjacent bleacher sections will miss out on some home runs to the opposite field thanks to the Mohegan Sun sports bar that now juts out of the "black" in dead center. The Yanks' solution — a trio of HDTV screens on either side of the restaurant, so fans can follow the action on TV — look like they'll only be useful for night games, as their images were all but invisible in today's bright afternoon glare."

The casino's sports bar is a new addition to the Mohegan Sun's regular homeplate advertising campaign with the New York Yankees.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Native Fiction Series

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A new website that follows a fictional nation has been created. The diary link can be accessed in the upper-right hand corner of this website called "NEW BLOG" or type in

We noticed the first post was created today. Support native authors by checking it out.