House Members Push for Mashpee Tribe’s Land in Trust Status

MASHPEE – Members of the United States House of Representatives are pushing to preserve the land in trust status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

The land was taken out of trust from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe last month, through an order from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

The decision came after the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2016 decision that ruled that since the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, it did not qualify for land in trust status.

The status essentially permits tribes to have unique self-governance over parcels of land.

Two bipartisan bills have passed the House of Representatives to “rectify” the situation, according to Congressman Bill Keating. One is authored by Keating, who co-sponsored the other one written by a Republican leadership member.

“The action administratively by Secretary Bernhardt is shameful,” Keating said.

“He acted in this period of emergency, when he didn’t have to act at the date he did, to try and move on this, to take away their land in trust.”

Congressman Joseph Kennedy III has also announced his support of these measures to put the land back into trust.

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Keating said that it is vital for Congress to act quickly.

“This shouldn’t be occurring when tribal healthcare issues and other issues are at stake,” he said, “and when we’re funding for this coronavirus emergency.”

The tribe filed an injunction in order to delay the termination of the land in trust status. For now, Keating said he and his colleagues will continue to explore options.

The matter will now be moved along to the United States Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have been urged by multiple House members to pass legislation on the issue.

About Brendan Fitzpatrick

Brendan, a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the newest members of the NewsCenter team. When not on the beat, you'll probably find him watching Boston sports.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy