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Pignatelli expects 'no hiccups' when lawmakers consider returning tribal documents

Months after the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, voted to return historic documents to the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, town officials have mailed the paperwork to get the legal process started.

The 18th century documents include an announcement of a meeting, signed by tribal leaders, to regain control of land distribution, which had been dominated by the English.

It took five months for Stockbridge to send a certified copy of the Town Meeting vote approving the return of all documents created by the tribe before 1870 to state Rep. Smitty Pignatelli.

Existing state law requires all towns to keep certain historic documents. Pignatelli said he thinks a bill giving the town permission to return the documents will pass with "no hiccups at all." Still, he wants to talk about it with Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin.

"He is in charge of our archives, these historical documents. And is it a good idea to give up such a historic documents?" Pignatelli said. "But right now, as a home rule state, and a home rule petition, I would not anticipate any issues at all with the Legislature." 

Pignatelli said he expects to file the bill by the middle of December.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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