Federal Legislation Could Revive Mashpee Wampanoag Casino Plan

PHOTO COURTESY: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

MASHPEE – Bi-partisan legislation filed in Congress this week could help revive the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s casino plan in Taunton and stop the potential revocation of their land in trust.

A group that includes 9th District Congressman William Keating, who represents the Cape and Islands, filed a bill that re-affirms the tribe’s federal land status.

A federal court challenge by neighbors of a planned Native American casino in Taunton put the project on hold.

An initial ruling from the court questioned the way the Interior Department took land into federal trust in Mashpee and Taunton for the tribe.

Keating introduced the bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Until the court challenge, the Mashpee tribe was moving forward with a casino project that was made possible by their land into trust designation and a state law that legalized casinos in Massachusetts.

Without legislative action to re-affirm the Interior Departments September 2015 decision that established the Mashpee tribe’s initial reservation, the tribe said the department could revoke their federal land designation.

The legislation would supercede any action by the Department of the Interior.

The tribe said losing its reservation would cause them to close its school, abandon a tribal housing project, forfeit

federal environmental grants, and divert funding designated for critical social services.

It would also end their efforts to build the casino.

“I applaud the courageous leadership of Congressman Keating and his fellow congressional representatives from across the United States who are responsible for this bipartisan bill to protect our ancestral homeland,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell in a statement.

“It was our ancestors who greeted the Pilgrims and helped them survive. It was our forebears who signed the first treaty with the settlers, sharing our land and natural resources which made the establishment of Plymouth Colony possible,” he said.

As the state of Massachusetts prepares to celebrate the 400 the anniversary of the Pilgrims landing, Cromwell said there is no better time for the U.S. Congress to pass the bill.

The sponsors of the bill are as follows:

Rep. William Keating, D-MA

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-CA

Rep. Don Young, R-AK

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-CA

Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, D-MA

Rep. Katherine Clark, D-MA

Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-MA

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-MA

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-NY

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-FL


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