HARTFORD, Conn. — A Connecticut-based Native American tribe is suing the state for at least $613 million in damages for land it says was taken from the tribal reservation more than a century ago.
The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation said in the suit filed Thursday the state took 2,000 acres it was managing for the tribe without compensation between 1801 and 1918.
Attorney Austin Tighe, a lawyer representing the Kent-based tribe, said the Schaghticokes still don’t have a full accounting of the property from the state and that the actual amount may be more than $613.
“It’s time to go forward with this now,” Tighe said Friday.
Once the case gets into the court system, he said the tribe will demand the state provide the full information about the tribal land. Tighe contends the state took land from the tribe on 91 different occasions over 117 years, promising to pay for the property but “repeatedly broke its promise.”
A spokeswoman for the state attorney general said the complaint is under review and any response will be made in court.
The Schaghticokes are not federally recognized, a designation the tribe has sought for many years. Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut had opposed their recognition when he was in office but now represents the tribe as an attorney in this case.
“Looking back on what happened 12 years ago, for me, the opportunity to be involved in this litigation on behalf of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, might be called a second chance to do right by them,” Lieberman said.
Both Lieberman and Tighe stressed the tribe is not attempting to recoup the land it lost but rather be fairly compensated. The $613 million figure stems from the value of four parcels of land at the time they were taken, adjusted by a 6 percent interest rate compounded annually.
Information from: Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com