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Resident says tribe treated unfairly

To the Editor:

I am writing to you today on behalf of the Golden Hill Paugassett Tribe in regard to an injustice that has been committed on them by the Shelton Land Trust Organization.

The Golden Hill Paugassett Tribe was scheduled to have a Native American Pow Wow at the Shelton Land Trust Nichodale farm property In October 2013. The Tribe sought to have this event to raise community awareness of the local Native American population, and to provide an opportunity for the community to enrich our lives with aspects of Native American Culture. This event was scheduled to have Native American Dancing, storytelling, authentic cuisine and Native artwork and crafts. This event was intended to include people from all over the Valley, and state providing an opportunity to experience aspects of life of the tribe’s indigenous to this region.

Unfortunately, at the time I am writing this letter, the Shelton Land Trust has cold-heartedly decided that their property is not suited for the Paugassett’s event. Approximately six months ago, the tribe approached the Land Trust committee, conducted property walk through with its members, and agreed upon dates for the Tribe to have their Pow Wow. Prior to the Land Trust approving this event, the tribe had to agree to various conditions, not limited to ensuring the property would be left in the same condition it was found in. The Tribe readily agreed to this, and even arranged support of local Boy Scout Troops to ensure that the property would be left in better condition than it was found. The tribe was informed on Jan. 18 by phone that the Land Trust property was no longer available and that they had “changed their minds” and  the property could not support the event.

This event was scheduled to take place in a grass field. Native Americans have served as custodians of the land for generations. How absurd that The Land Trust would assert that the Tribe cannot responsibly run an event on the property. This land is set in trust for the public. If the public can not responsibly hold events there, then what is its purpose? Why did the Land Trust Committee vote unanimously vote to support the event only to cancel without a solid explanation or even give the tribe a chance to address any new concerns that surfaced?

This offense is even worse because the Golden Hill Paugassett’s are not a wealthy tribe. The tribe has invested money and time promoting this event at the Land Trust, and are now being forced to spend additional money — that they really don’t have — to re-do advertisements and try to find a new location. I am disappointed with the Shelton Land Trust’s inconsiderate decision and I feel that the public should be made aware of what kind of business this organization is conducting on their behalf.

At the end of the day, I guess this is just another instance of promises being made to our local Native Americans and having them disregarded when they are inconvenient.

Keith Rood

Shelton

 

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  • http://www.sheltonconservation.org Teresa Gallagher

    I am the Conservation Agent for the City of Shelton and have received some comments from people who have read this letter and mistakenly thought it pertained to city open space, which it does not. No one has ever contacted my office about using Shelton Pubic Open Space for a Pow Wow.

    Many people confuse the Shelton Land Trust with the Conservation Commission. The former is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that is not controlled or funded by the City of Shelton or the taxpayers. The Land Trust owns 365 acres of property, including Nicholdale Farm, mostly donated by property owners who wanted to preserve their woods or farm. This land is privately-owned, but is made open to the public with trails built by Scouts, and the Nicholdale Farm property is available for “youth camping.”

    In contrast, the Conservation Commission is an official municipal body with members appointed by the Mayor and a budget determined by the Board of Aldermen. City of Shelton Public Open Space is normally acquired with public funds or as a condition of development approval, and the trails on these lands are maintained by an official subcommittee of the Conservation Commission called the Trails Committee. Municipal open space is sometimes acquired for multiple purposes, including recreation and potential future infrastructure, while private Land Trust properties are managed primarily for conservation and wildlife habitat.

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