Bassett v. Mashantucket Pequot Tribe

204 F.3d 343 (2d Cir. 2000)

Foxwoods Casino.

The Pequot tribe has its origins in the Hudson Valley. Sometime in the 1500's the Pequots and the Mohicans lived together along the coast of present-day eastern Connecticut. However, by the time Europeans had arrived in New England, the two tribes had split apart into warring groups.

The Pequot War was a complicated conflict with international overtones. In the 1630's, present-day Connecticut was the stage for a battle between English and Dutch colonies to spread their influence and expand their lucrative fur trades. Several of the Native American tribes in the were forced to choose sides, with the Pequot allying with the Dutch and their arch-rivals, the Mohicans allying with the English. The war nearly destroyed the Pequot tribe; all of their land was distributed and for a time, the tribe was not legally recognized.

In 1910, after re-recognition by the federal government, the tribe only had 66 registered members. The community gradually grew and split into the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation and the Mashantucket Pequots. The Mashantucket tribe, after gaining separate federal recognition in 1983, built a large casino on their tribal lands called Foxwoods, pictured.

With the money gained from this development, the tribe was able to build a museum dedicated to preserving and telling the history of the Pequots. The film at issue in this case, The Witness, is one of the museum's exhibits.

As a side note, the Mohican tribe also has a casino, known as Mohegan Sun.