House Committee Advances Mashpee Wampanoag Bill

Cedric Cromwell

MASHPEE – Legislation that would preserve the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s federal land in trust passed a key House committee on Wednesday.

It’s a step that could eventually help jumpstart the tribe’s plan to build a casino resort in Taunton.

The House Natural Resources Committee moved the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act out of that Committee.

The Department of the Interior reversed a previous decision to take land in Taunton and Mashpee into trust following a federal lawsuit that challenged the process.

Since then, the tribe has been trying to secure federal legislation that would end all challenges to their land in trust.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had already broken ground on the Taunton casino when the federal lawsuit shut it down.

“Today’s action by the House Natural Resources Committee provides an incredible lift for my people,” said Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell.

“The remarkable bipartisan support of the legislation has served to be a unifying force not only across Indian Country but across the United States of America,” he said.

In 2015, the Department of the Interior created a reservation for the Tribe, before the federal lawsuit was filed.

The legislation that was advanced this week is being strongly opposed by Rhode Island’s congressional delegation.

They saw allowing the tribe to build a casino in Taunton will severely impact the finances of the two casinos already operating in that state.

A competing gaming company that wanted to build a casino in Brockton funded the litigation that halted the Wampanoag project.

The United States has not disestablished an Indian reservation for more than half a century.


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