Brothertown Recognition

In the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government saw certain tribes as sufficiently capable of self-government, and thus "no longer in need of federal supervision." The government terminated its relationship with numerous tribes under this policy. Many tribes opposed this, and sought restoration of recognition. Since 1978, Native tribes have been required to go through a lengthy and expensive "recognition" process with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

The Brothertown letter of Intent to Petition, filed with the Branch of Acknowledgment and Recognition (BAR) of the BIA, on April 15, 1980, was followed by work by countless Brothertown members to research and document Brothertown history. In this, the tribe received enormous assistance from many other tribes, including the Stockbridge, Oneida, Mohegan, and Pequot, from historical societies in Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin, and from academia. Almost every family in the tribe took part in some way - and most in many ways.

As part of this work, the BIN made an inquiry to the Solicitor General's Office regarding the status of the tribe. In 1990, and again in 1993, the Solicitor General communicated its determination that the Act of 1839 had not terminated the Brothertown Indian Nation.

In 1996, our petition was forwarded to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and, as time passed, the tribe forwarded supplements to the petition and the documentation. More than 10 file boxes of documentation in total were provided.

Review of the Brothertown petition by the Office of Federal Acknowledgement (OFA), a reorganized and renamed BAR, began in June, 2008.

On August 17, 2009, OFA published its Proposed Finding (PF) declining to acknowledge the Brothertown based on the evidence provided by BIN and obtained through research by OFA staff.

The recognition process provides for a 180-day Comment Period following the PF so that the tribe can address any issues raised in the finding and all interested and informed parties may submit arguments or evidence to rebut or support the proposed finding before a final determination is issued.

We requested a 180-day extension to the Comment Period at the January 4, 2010, hearing and again, in writing, following the hearing. There were several reasons for the extension request, including the fact that Freedom of Information Act information we requested following receipt of the Proposed Finding was not received until January 2010, and not in full at that point, and a request made by BIN in November for permission to hire a former Bureau of Indian Affairs employee to assist BIN in its recognition effort has not been granted or even acknowledged. Additionally, transcripts of the January 4, 2010, meeting, which were to be provided within 10 days of that meeting, have not been received more than 1 month later.

On February 18, 2010, the Brothertown received a 6-month extention to the Comment Period for the Proposed Finding. Brothertown members and interested parties now have until August 23, 2010, to send letters and comments of support to OFA.