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Arson Destroys Tribal Building

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Schaghticoke tribal office and pavilion in Kent, before it was destroyed by a fire. Photo courtesy of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

Schaghticoke tribal office and pavilion in Kent, before it was destroyed by a fire. Photo courtesy of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation.

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A Kent building used for meetings of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has been badly damaged by what state police say was an arson fire.

Chief Richard Velky says the building will have to come down.

“It’s a shame,” Velky said. “That somebody would stoop to that degree to try to hurt tribal people who actually have nothing much, anyways.

“It was our long house, which we used for gatherings, meetings, and educational programs,” Velky said.

No arrests have been made.

Velky said he had ideas about why the building may have been burned down, but he did not want to talk about them until after the criminal investigation.

In past years, disagreements between tribal factions have sometimes boiled over.  In 2006, a tribal council member was charged with waving a gun around.

The partially-enclosed pavilion on Schaghitcoke Road is about 60 feet by 22 feet.

Velky says it was built in 1978, by tribal members with material donated by the state.

Velky says he plans to ask the governor for assistance rebuilding.

The fire started Monday night.  State investigators were called in several hours later.

The Schaghticoke Tribal Nation has sought federal recognition for years, but most recently the US Supreme Court rejected their effort.

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