HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Mohegan Tribes Council of Elders opposes the current proposal that would rename the Thames River, according to a statement released Monday.

The statement, issued by Charlie Strickland, Two Bears, who is the chairman and justice of the council, is in response to House Bill 5503, which would rename the river to the Pequot River.

“We understand the intent of this legislation, and appreciate that members of the General Assembly are attempting to correct a perceived historical wrong,” Strickland wrote. “However, the river — which The Mohegan Tribe has historically called the Massapequotuck — runs adjacent to our homeland. It has been the lifeblood of our tribe for centuries, and has had many other names throughout its history: Mohegan, Pequot, Mohegan-Pequot, and now Thames, but it has always provided our ancestors with food, transportation and the shells used for our wampum.”

The river is adjacent to the tribe’s reservation and active burial ground, which Strickland said is why the council is against renaming the river “for what we hope are self-evident reasons.”

“Additionally, this legislation proposes a name for the river based on a European map that was created a moment in time,” the statement reads. “There are many European maps that show a variety of names, and I have attached one such map from 1630 that shows the name as the Mohegan-Pequot River, as just one example.”

Strickland said he has reached out to the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation to discuss a traditional name that both tribes support. He said that while one has not been decided on, the tribe is open to discussion.

“The Mohegan culture is centered around collaboration, respect, and working together,” Strickland wrote. “I hope my testimony today sheds light on what the unintended consequences of this bill will be. We believe the two tribes should come together and work in mutual respect with the goal of agreeing on a suggested name. Only then do we believe that the State of Connecticut’s legislative body can make an informed and culturally sensitive decision that is respectful to both Tribes.”