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Golden Hill Paugussetts Land Claims




1.  What is the Golden Hill Tribe of Indians. 

  The Golden Hill Paugussett Tribe of Indians is a Tribe whose members have lived in southwestern Connecticut for hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years.  There are over one hundred adults and children who are members of the Tribe.  They are the survivors of the Paugussett Indian Nation.

2.  Is the Golden Hill Tribe really an Indian tribe?

 Yes.  The Tribe has been continuously recognized and dealt with by the Colony and then the State of Connecticut since at least the 1650's.  The current Tribal members are registered with the State and are without question the direct descendants of the Tribe from over 300 years ago and are recognized by the State as such.

     The Tribe has had clearly defined and well documented leadership for two hundred years.

In the 1970's, the Tribe fought a "war" over the ownership of its famous one-quarter acre reservation in Trumbull.  The Tribe had owned and used that land as a reservation for over one hundred years.  In 1984, after nearly ten years of litigation and virtual warfare, the State of Connecticut determined that the Tribe was the owner of the one-quarter acre reservation.

There is further extensive proof that the Tribe is a Tribe, which will be presented when it is necessary  to do so.

3.  What Is an Indian land claim?

An Indian land claim is a lawsuit on behalf of or by a tribe of Native Americans for the return of lands unlawfully taken from the tribe.  In the case of land claims made by northeastern tribes, most of the lands involved were unlawfully taken at least one hundred years ago, and, in many instances two hundred years ago or more.

Land claims are generally for the return of what are called aboriginal lands of the tribe.  The aboriginal territory of the tribe is that area which the tribe inhabited prior to the arrival of European settlers.

These claims may be based on violations of United States laws, or of the laws which existed prior to the American Revolution.  Indian land claims have frequently been upheld by the United States Supreme Court, as well as many lower courts.


4.   What Is the aboriginal territory of the Golden Hill Tribe?

Prior to the arrival of European settlers, Native Americans lands did not have clearly defined borders, such as county or state lines.  Therefore this area cannot be exactly defined.

The aboriginal lands of the Tribe  generally ranged along the coast from Norwalk through New Haven  and northward to a point north of Waterbury.

 5.   Where are the land claims of the Golden Hill Tribe and how many properties are Involved?

 The Tribe has many claims throughout Fairfield County and in New Haven County.  The total property

involved may be many thousands of acres.  As research is done of land records, the Tribe continues to discover further instances of illegal sales of Tribal lands.

One lawsuit was filed on September 3, 1992 for the return of approximately 20 acres in Bridgeport.  Another suit is about to be filed for the return of approximately 70 acres in downtown Bridgeport.  The work is also now being completed to file suits involving hundreds of acres in Trumbull, Milford, Stratford, Huntington, and Orange.

Work is beginning on several of the claims.  As work continues, more and more instances are being discovered of unlawful takings of Tribal lands.  If the claims of the Tribe are not settled, the Tribe intends to bring as many legal actions as may be required to recover all Tribal lands.


6.   What does the Golden Hill Tribe want?

 Federal recognition and financial security and stability for the Tribe.  The Golden Hill Tribe wants justice for its people.


7.   What does federal recognition mean and what does It do for the Golden Hill Tribe or its members?

 Federal recognition means that the United States government recognizes that it has a trust responsibility to the Tribe.  Federal recognition will give the Tribe and its members access to many federal programs for the benefit of Native Americans.  These include educational and health care programs.

 8.    Does the Golden Hill Tribe need federal recognition before It can win its land claims?  Absolutely, positively not.  Virtually all of the eastern land claims were brought and won or settled by tribes that did not have federal recognition.  In several instances, federal recognition of the tribes came about in settlement of the land claims litigation.

Any statements that the Tribe must have federal recognition prior to winning its land claims is ridiculous.

 9.   Can the Golden Hill Tribe obtain federal recognition without the litigation?

 Without question, this is true.  There is a procedure pursuant to which the Tribe applies to the

Department of the Interior to establish that it is entitled to recognition.  Recently the Tribe was given a financial grant from the Administration for Native Americans for the purpose of establishing that it is entitled to federal recognition.

 10.   How can the land claims help the Golden Hill Tribe achieve financial security?  Does the  Tribe want to have a gaming facility.

 Land claims are frequently resolved by making a payment to the Native American tribe.  It is also possible that, after litigation, the lands involved could be returned to the tribe which has made the claim.

        The lands within the claims of the Golden Hill Tribe have a fair market value today of many hundreds of millions of dollars.  Perhaps the current value of the real estate involved in Trial claims exceeds one billion dollars.

The value of the lands illegally taken from the Tribe, at the time of the taking, plus a reasonable rate of interest, amounts to many tens of millions of dollars.

In theory, the Tribe could press for the actual return of the lands or perhaps settle the case for one hundred million dollars or more in damages.  The amount of any possible cash settlement increases as the Tribe discovers proof of additional illegal takings.

There is, however, another possible means for the Tribe to achieve financial security without the need for the State or the federal government to contribute one hundred million dollars to a settlement.

The extreme financial distress of Connecticut cities is well known and well understood.  Certain key community and business leaders have approached the Tribe and suggested that there is an alternative resolution to the Tribal claims which could serve as a centerpiece for economic revival.  That solution would be for the construction of an Indian gaming facility in a Connecticut city.

If there is an agreement to allow the construction of a gaming facility, the amount of money to be paid to the Tribe would obviously be much, much less as the facility can provide financial stability to the Tribe.

 11. Does the Tribe have a plan for gaming?  Will the profits help the City and how does the  plan  compare to proposals made by Nevada or Atlantic City gaming Interests?

 The Tribe does have a plan for the creation of a gaming facility.  In general, it is the goal of the Tribe to maximize benefits to the community.  The Tribe hopes to train and hire as many local residents as possible and patronize local businesses.  Unlike the Nevada or Atlantic City proposals, the Tribe does not want to build a "self-contained" facility.

While there will be some restaurants and other facilities at the gaming complex, the plan is for people in the community to own restaurants, shops, etc. to service the thousands of people who may come to Bridgeport.  Existing businesses which are on the verge of insolvency may become thriving enterprises.  Again, to understand this, all one needs to do is to look at southeastern Connecticut.

Proposals offered by Steve Wynn and others are for self-contained facilities which allow the operators to withdraw the profits with minimal spill over to the community.  The perfect example of this is Atlantic City, where there has been very little favorable impact on anyone other than the casino operators and a few land speculators who made huge amounts of money, but did nothing for Atlantic City.

12.   How much land is needed to build a gaming complex and how can the Golden Hill Tribe obtain the land?

Ideally, 25 to 35 acres would be sufficient to build such a complex.  This could be done on much less land if necessary by building a multistory facility. The land could be donated to the Tribe or purchased.

13.  Will the plan for a gaming facility cost the city any money?

No, the Tribe does not want or expect any money from the city. 

14.  What does the Golden Hill Tribe want from the city?

 The Tribe wants the support of the various communities in the city.  This includes the people of the city, and the business and political communities.  The Tribe does not plan to spend or invest millions of dollars where it is not wanted. 

15.  If the Tribe does build an Indian gaming facility, does it have to be in Bridgeport? Does the Tribe need the city of Bridgeport.

The Tribe does not need Bridgeport.

 The Tribe would very much like to do this in Bridgeport for several reasons.  First of all, the last remaining reservation of the Tribe was in Trumbull for many years.  The Trumbull reservation has long been the center of Tribal activities.

In addition, the financial distress in Bridgeport is enormous.  The Tribe believes that its plans could be the key to stabilizing and even saving the City.


16.  What If the Golden Hill Tribe does not receive support that it desires from within Bridgeport?

The Tribe would build a gaming facility somewhere else, in a location where the resulting economic boom would be welcomed.


17.  Would a gaming facility owned by the Golden Hill Tribe be like the one in eastern Connecticut in that the state receives no direct tax revenues?

No, it does not need to be like the other Indian gaming facility.  The Tribe would be willing to reach an arrangement pursuant to which revenue would be paid in lieu of taxes.


18.  Is the Tribe aware of the financial devastation which its land claims have been creating?

Yes ,we are very aware of the problems which have been created by the land claims.  Prior to the filing of the first claim, the Tribe wanted to negotiate without filing suit.  The Tribe is ready, willing, and able to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement at any time.

If such a settlement is not concluded, the litigation will continue.  We realize that there may be bankruptcies in the impacted areas.  We also fully understand the problems which this can cause, but there is absolutely nothing that the Tribe can do, other than to continue our willingness to reach a fair and just resolution as soon as possible.

19. Who will pay to settle the land claims of the Golden Hill Tribe?

The State of Connecticut and perhaps the federal government would contribute to any payments made to the Tribe.

 20.  Can the Golden Hill Tribe prove or substantiate everything  which it has said above? 




Copyright � 1999 Golden Hill Indian Tribe