Department of Interior to Examine Alternate Land Into Trust Analysis for Wampanoag; Casino Hopes Still Alive

PHOTO COURTESY: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

MASHPEE – A move by the Department of the Interior to reject the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s request to withdraw its revised land into trust application may actually help the tribe’s casino effort. 

Late Friday, the DOI announced its decision, saying instead it would move ahead with a separate review process.

That examination will look to see whether land in Mashpee and Taunton should be taken into trust under a method not considered in the past.

That avenue will look at how Maine was admitted as a state when it split from Massachusetts.

According to the DOI letter, Congress noted at the time that Massachusetts controlled Native American affairs.

That’s the key issue in whether the Mashpee Tribe can get land into trust – whether the tribe was under state and federal jurisdiction prior to 1934.

The DOI was planning to reject the tribe’s revised request before the request to withdraw.

Now the Bureau will examine the request in the light of the Maine statehood issue.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is grateful that the U.S. Department of Interior today has provided a pathway forward in securing our reservation lands. This evening I received a letter announcing the Interior Department decision to extend and expand the review process by inviting us to submit further materials demonstrating how our tribal history supports our rights to trust land,” said Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell.

“The letter affirms that our land remains in trust.”

Cromwell said they are now working several tracks to preserve their land base.

By MATT PITTA, News Director


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