Inter-tribal unity...for real this time?

Unity between Pequots, & Mohegans has not been easy, because historically we were as much bitter rivals as we were neighbors. Can true friendship happen?


When I worked in public relations at Foxwoods, some of the most common questions I received from news reporters were about the Pequot’s relationship with the Mohegan tribe, as well as any other New England tribe who might one day build a casino of their own.

“Are you guys worried about future competition?”

“What if that tribe expands their business across the river?”

 “What if those tribes build resorts near Boston?”

I usually replied in a way that let people know we not only embrace other tribes, we also wished them well in their endeavors.   There’s a very good reason for that.

When Foxwoods opened to the public, our tribal council recognized our success was not simply “all about us”.  Our newfound fortune represented something radically unique and unusual – an opportunity for tribes across the country to create sustainable economic development for their own people. If it worked for us, perhaps it might work for them.

The Mashantucket Pequots had a legal monopoly in the early nineties.  We did not have to re-open our gaming compact with the state of Connecticut to allow another tribe to build another resort.  We chose to do it, and the rest is history.  Now, with more than 240 tribes operating 460 casinos in 28 states, Indian gaming has mushroomed into a $27 billion dollar industry in only 20 years, and it all began right here at Mashantucket.

So when I read a national news article about our tribal council chairman and the Mohegan tribe’s chairman coming together to build lasting relationships and inter-tribal unity, and share resources to address common issues, I was encouraged!   After all, building unity between our tribes has not been easy, because historically, the Pequots, Mohegans and Narragansetts were often as much bitter rivals as they were brotherly neighbors.

Each spring, our tribe commemorates the Pequots’ survival of one of the very first genocidal massacres against an Indian tribe within what we now know as the continental United States.   Nearly 400 years ago, the Mohegans and Narragansetts joined forces with the English against the Pequots and murdered approximately 400 Pequot women, children and elders in less than one hour.  So are we finally over it?  Have we really set aside our respective grudges so we can focus our energies on forgiveness, friendship, and unity?

As more and more cultural and recreational tribal unity events are planned to bring local tribes together, there appears to be a growing conscious effort to get to know one another and build positive relationships.    But let’s face it…if our tribes are serious about building relationships and if these unity efforts are authentic, the resulting effects really ought to permeate our communities as well as our resort enterprises.

It’s my hope that by encouraging authentic inter-tribal unity, we might squelch the potential for any hypocritical actions of non-tribal executives and business consultants who may scramble and scheme behind closed doors, squandering each tribe’s resources in self-serving attempts to one-up and out bid each other in marketing sponsorships, advertising and brand placement efforts.  Granted, that kind of activity would represent a worst-case scenario…but I’m just saying.

I want to know what you think.  Are inter-tribal unity events working to foster real unity among tribes?  Have we really let bygones be bygones and buried the hatchet from offenses that happened hundreds of years ago?  Are there ways we can do better, and if so, how?

Check out www.loripotter.com for more memoirs and musings about what it's like to be a Mashantucket Pequot.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

van thomas green March 30, 2013 at 03:20 AM
Nice artical lori! but if you check out ..our tribal and the wangunk social Interaction,you will see it fgos all the way to the 1900's"seeChapin,Alonzo B. 1968: glastonbury for two Hundred years: a XCentennial Discourse, may 18th, A.D.`1853 Haertford: press of Case, tiffany and company...and deeds of the past:the wangunk of Glastonbury.Artifacts 14(3):3-8 Cooper,Karen K.1986.
van thomas green March 30, 2013 at 03:37 AM
The , wangunk community was not a socially bounded entity,but rather,an entity socially interfaced with other native communities though-out history,mohegan and narragansett...up-until the 1900's this community largly dispersed toward farming and gathering,and dispersed toeard the end of the reservation period. and reintergrated among other surviving groups,of native peoples . it appears that the wangunks, social connections facilitated their reintegration among other indian communities.This is our social linkages between other groups,within, and without, of our social region.which would be glastonbury,middletown weatherfield..and Hartford.
van thomas green March 30, 2013 at 04:08 AM
Seeking protection from the more aggressive tribes, with the colonial society, Was our web of social interaction. which is a concrete exspression of our native ways,Peace and love unto all things in nature, as a socially connected entity. There are visual aids in the form of maps to illustrate a social collective interaction across the landscape, Which could be discribed as" web-like in appearrance. The regional interaction is on a smaller and more focused geographical scale. But operates on the same princple. Our group and its interaction is intended to give the reader a sense of how we fit into the native social world around us.
Momauguian Joe March 30, 2013 at 12:47 PM
“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” ― Black Elk
Observor March 30, 2013 at 01:24 PM
1. Lori, you are no more a Pequot than am immigrant from China who arrived yesterday. Your "tribe" never went through the process for recognition to prove descent from the real pequots and continuous tribal government since European contact. Your "tribe" has never made any public effort to disprove Jeff Benedict's excellent research that suggested that you are not, in fact, Pequots. 2. Now the good news. You're doomed. The free money handouts have been stopped. Two of your tribal leaders have been arrested for stealing hundreds of thousands from the "tribe." You are losing business to the Rhode Island casinos and when the Massachusetts casinos open your business will collapse thanks to your stupidity in overexpanding. Because you defaulted on your debts no one will do business with you anymore so unlike the Mohegans - who ARE descendents of the real Mohegan tribe - you can't expand into new markets. I so look forward to the day when most of your "tribe" is moving back to the housing projets in Providence.
Lori Potter March 30, 2013 at 08:52 PM
To "observer"... While my tribe did in fact gain federal recognition LEGALLY during a time when doing so required merely one of at least two ways to gain such recognition, the historical documentation developed at that time has not only been endorsed but widely expanded upon over the last thirty years by numerous historians and archaeologists through University of Connecticut and other academic institutions. You probably didn't know that. But in the event you did, perhaps you have the opinion their research is phony when compared to a sensationalized novelette composed by one young law school graduate with marketing talent, a panache for tabloid storytelling, and a dull an axe to grind during his first couple of years out of Boston University. Regardless, unless you are a historian holding an advanced-degree who actually took time to review all historical records archived within my tribe's museum and research center, you are nothing more than a small-minded anonymous hate spinster, prejudiced against a small group of people you believed prospered undeservingly, who hides his or her identity behind a single-word adjective that fails to adequately represent you. Do yourself a favor and go find a hobby. Channel that negative energy into something productive for all mankind.
Lori Potter March 30, 2013 at 08:53 PM
Part 2 in my response to “observer This brings me to my second point: I am very aware of the fact that our past tribal council has made significant mistakes in handling our tribe’s resources. I’ve written extensively about such things on my primary blog site, www.loripotter.com. Likewise, I’ve written on the subject of our expansion project that not only made no revenue for the tribe but also failed to receive a voter endorsement by a vast majority of our enrolled tribal members. All that aside, while the indicted individuals you mentioned have indeed stumbled into a great deal of trouble, they are also my relatives. Distant cousins. As in any family, when cousin so-and-so gets into trouble, we are not happy about those actions that led to it, but we commit to pray for them. We believe there is always hope he or she will learn a valuable lesson and grow from the experience in a way that demonstrates to others two things. 1.) An awareness of the difference between right and wrong, and 2.) An example demonstrating how anyone can be redeemed, forgiven and reasonably restored by the grace of God Himself. That said, here’s the good news…I’m NOT doomed! Not in the slightest. On the contrary…I’m quite blessed, thank you. I pray that one day you will be too.
Lori Potter March 30, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Thank you for this quote. Excellent reminder. :-)
Lori Potter March 30, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Van, Thank you for the interesting recap of historical culture on the indigenous peoples of New England. Your perspective is well constructed and referenced. I appreciate you taking time to reply to my article.
van thomas green March 30, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Does Sam shuntaup ring a bell for you,my grandmother spoke of him,wen I was younger,in the 50's..in NB...I'm sue it was windsor street in Hartford,..there street off off of windsor called pequot street.....they name that street,after our realtives,and this was in the 50's nd 60's...sam was a pequot/mohegan...by way of benny Unas. Benny Uncas had few sqaws....uhard..?
van thomas green March 30, 2013 at 10:50 PM
lor can you get on facebook messenge?
van thomas green March 31, 2013 at 01:08 AM
Connecticut legislature unanimously passed legislation to petition the federal government to grant tribal Recognition to the Mashantucket Pequots and settle the claim. The tribe filed suit in 1976 against neighboring landowner's to recover land that had been sold by the State of connrcticut in 1856.
van thomas green March 31, 2013 at 01:25 AM
In 1999 my lawer filed with the United states Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian affairs washington D.C. 20240 in reply Refer to tribal services-AR Ms4660 MIB. The Honorable john G. Rowland Governor of Connecticut 210 Capital Avenue ,Hartford Connecticut 06106. Dear Governor Rowland: pursuant to part 83.(9a) of the Code of federal Regulations (25 CFR 83.9(a), procedures for Establishing that an Indian group Exist as an Indian tribe, you are hereby notified that a letter of intent to petition for acknowledgment has been filed with the Assistant secretary-Indian affairs, Deprtment of interior, BIA by the .
van thomas green March 31, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Peqout /mohegan tribe inc ,387 High street ,suite 3-b# Middle town ct,06457


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