Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Where can I get information or video on the Mohegan Tribe? A. This website is a good first step. Look through issues of our newsletters, The Mohegan Way or Ni Ya Yo. You may subscribe online. See the homepage for links. Also, look in the Books & Videos section to order materials.
Q. Can I get someone to talk to our group? How do I apply? A. The Tribe's educational outreach also takes Tribal members to schools and community centers. Interested groups can request speakers and performers for a free, one-hour program. The program includes a Tribal welcome ceremony, woodland flute performance, Indian artifact exhibits, storytelling, Mohegan Tribe history lecture, Tribal dance exhibitions and interactive dance participation, followed by a question and answer session. The department also provides school curriculum and educational materials related to Tribal history. Contact the Cultural and Community Programs Department at 860-862-6277.
Q. Why doesn't the Tribe pay taxes? A. As individuals, we do pay state and federal taxes however, Tribal members who live and work on the reservation are exempt from state taxes only. But Indian tribes as organizations are not taxable under IRS law. In addition, gaming tribes within the state contribute 25% of all slot revenues to the state, making them the second largest contributor to Connecticut's revenue after the federal government. In 2005, this amounted to $217,193,576. Since inception the Tribe has contributed $1,479,277,026 to the state of Connecticut.
Q. How many Mohegan Tribe members are there? A. Currently there are about 1,700 Tribal members.
Q. I see many Tribal members who don't look like Indians. Are they really Indians? How do they qualify? A. TV has led us to believe that all Indians have long black hair, dark skin and high cheekbones. This isn't always accurate and many Indians have blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin. Mohegans are bound together not only by race, but also by lineage, heritage, nationhood and an oral tradition. The 1994 Tribal Constitution conferred membership upon those who traced their ancestry to the 1861 Tribal Roll and who have remained involved in Tribal activities.
Q. There seem to be others who call themselves Mohegans. Are they Tribal members, too?
A. There are others who use the Mohegan name or have websites, but they are not part of the recognized Mohegan Tribe. They have failed to qualify under our criteria for membership, which include proven ancestry traced to members on the official rolls of 1861 and meeting all the criteria to qualify under the federal recognition guidelines. All official members of the Mohegan Tribe have met these rigorous standards.
Q. How does someone become a Mohegan Tribal member? How would I apply?
A. Several years ago, we established the criteria for Tribal membership. We knew those who identified with the Tribe and who had family connections to Mohegans from the past (See question above). Additional criteria mirrored those in the Indian Federal Recognition Administrative Procedures Act. These included identity proven from historical times; proof of involvement in the Mohegan community and no membership in another tribe. We currently have a list of people who can prove their Tribal ancestry and who have been active members. This list is now complete and closed. The only additions are children of members. The Tribe does not accept further application for membership, except for lineal descendants of individuals listed on the May 11, 2002 Tribal Roll, born after May 11, 2001.
Q. How has the casino helped the Mohegan Tribe?
A. Among other things, it has allowed a number of Tribal members who have had to move away the chance to come home. The casino has provided a stable economic foundation for the future. Moreover, it has helped our efforts to preserve our culture, to strengthen our identity, to educate our members and launch new business initiatives.
Q. Do Indians wear their costumes within the Tribe?
A. We don't call our traditional clothing "costumes". We call it "regalia," which we wear for ceremonies or special occasions.
Q. Why is the Mohegan Tribe able to take land into trust?
A. The terms of the 1994 Mohegan Land Claims Settlement Act allows the Mohegan Tribe to take into trust uncontested a total of 700 acres for the establishment of the Mohegan Reservation.