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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended May 28, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 25May00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

LDS Author Takes On Rich Indian Tribe
(Are Pequots Really Pequots?)
60 Minutes II 23May00 P2

LEDYARD, CONNECTICUT -- An LDS author has taken a look at the richest tribe of American Indians and called foul. Jeff Benedict, a Boston law student, says in his new book, "Without Reservation" that Connecticut's Pequot tribe is a farce, contending that tribe leaders decieved the Federal government to gain recognition as a tribe, millions in Federal funding and permission to open a casino in the state.

In 1994, CBS News looked at the tribe, the Mashantucket Pequot, which had been considered by some extinct for more than 300 years. But in the 1970s, Skip Hayward, a enterprising former pipefitter, grandson to the last remaining resident of the Pequot reservation, moved there when his grandmother died. He hired a lawyer and sued the state of Connecticut over land claims and persuaded the U.S. Congress to recognize the Pequot as a tribe. The fledgling group eventually landed on the idea of opening a high-stakes bingo parlor with a loan from the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. By 1994 the resulting casino was bringing in more than $300 million a year.

Benedict contends that the whole thing is a fraud, "This group of people isn't the same Pequots that inhabited Connecticut a couple hundred years ago," he says. "They're not even close." After two years of researching court records and census tracts, Benedict says that these Pequot's can't trace their bloodlines to the original tribe. Initially, the new group said that anyone that could prove at least one of his or her great-great-grandparents were listed in the tribal census of 1910, could join the tribe. CBS News says that the tribe has since dropped even that requirement.

In "Without Reservation," Benedict further contends that the tribe had ceased to exist, hadn't functioned for decades by the 1970s, and that even Hayward had identified himself as white or Caucasian on public documents. He says that what Hayward and the rest of the current group did is simply unethical, "Frankly to go to the Congress of the United States and to portray yourself as something that you're not and to get benefits, dollars, as a result of fraudulent." At one point, joining the tribe made you eligible for comfortable housing, free college tuition and a tribal job starting at $60,000 a year plus bonuses.

Naturally, these contentions provoke an emotional reaction from Hayward, "That is the biggest crock of crap I've ever heard in my life," he responds. "(Benedict) is nothing but a damn lunatic. I mean either someone has paid him to do this....Or he is an Indian hater, who can't stand what we've been able to accomplished here."

But at least Benedict has touched a chord with neighbors of the Pequots' casino. Fed up with the traffic and congestion and the tribe's plan to annex more land, they are asking for a Congressional investigation of the Pequots' credentials. "What ever happened to one nation under God indivisible?" asks neighbor Bob Congdon, of Preston, Conn. "I have a real problem with this country being set up where there are different rights for different groups - different privileges, different immunities."


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See also:

Without Reservation More about "Without Reservation : The Making of America's Most Powerful Indian Tribe and Foxwoods, the World's Largest Casino" at

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information