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Mohegan’s Two Dogs Recounts Tribal Perspective

by John Stratton

Most businesses count themselves lucky if they can develop, and stick to, a five-year plan. Many more are stuck with the end-of-year, or even quarterly accounting and planning.

Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum describes the Tribe’s “long view” of history. “It’s important that everyone ‘engage,’ help out a little bit to promote everything in the State to the benefit of all of us.”

How about 13 generations—backward and forward?

Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, outlined the Tribe’s perspective on its own history and ethic for area business leaders on August 15. The meeting’s early-morning, “experimental” format was set up by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut to offer Chamber members informal discussion with senior-level business executives from the region. The first of the “Conversations With…” series was held at the furniture showroom of Raymour and Flanigan in Waterford.

Two Dogs is Bozsum’s Tribal name, assigned to him by Slow Turtle, the supreme Medicine Man of the Algonquian Tribes, at a naming ceremony. Throughout his informal presentation, Two Dogs pointed to the “family” nature of the relationships among Mohegan’s 1,700 tribal members and the accompanying philosophy which pervades its many enterprises, most notably the Mohegan Sun Casino.

He cites Uncas, the Mohegan sachem who forged alliances with the English in the 1630’s, as saying, “Look 13 generations ahead, and we will be here forever.” That long view still governs planning in the Tribe as it embarks on new enterprises, he said, but “it is a long, hard process, asking the nine elected leaders of the ‘families’ in the Tribal Council, ‘What do you want for your great-grandchildren?’”

Chamber members heard often amusing anecdotes about the decision-making process, which seeks concurrence, not discord. The Mohegan’s position as an independent nation was underscored, Bozsum recalled, on his 2006 visit to England on a mission to honor the grave of Sachem Mahomet Weyonomon, who had sought an audience with King George II but died of smallpox in 1736 before the meeting was achieved. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were more available, and recognized the Mohegan delegation as equals, he said, and they exchanged gifts. A proper Mohegan Memorial now attends the grave at Southwark Cathedral.

Given the deep history, Chamber members asked, what is in store now?

Two Dogs pointed to long-range negotiations for casino possibilities in the Poconos and Catskills, and in nearby Palmer, Massachusetts, though he stressed caution on foreseeing economic recovery. “We are three to four years out from being comfortable again,” he pointed out.

“We’ll bid on Palmer, because we need to stay in the game,” he said, “but our goal will be to keep Massachusetts supporting itself, just as Connecticut must support itself.”

The Mohegans, he said, are very willing to partner with local organizations, citing positive Chamber comments on the recent OpSail events in New London and the centenary celebrations of Lawrence & Memorial Hospital held in its facilities.

“It’s important that everyone ‘engage,’ help out a little bit to promote everything in the State to the benefit of all of us,” he stressed.

“This is our home,” he emphasized. “We are a family, and will be here for the long term.”