Lack of Communication Impacting Mashpee/Wampanoag Relations


MASHPEE – Mashpee selectmen are anxious to meet with members of the Wampanoag Tribe to discuss common interests and municipal responsibilities.

The board voted last week to extend a memorandum of understanding with the tribe allowing the town to deploy police, fire, and medical crews and equipment onto tribal lands, but expressed frustration that they have yet to have a formal sit down with Wampanoag officials.

“This brought back about two years of frustrations for me,” said Mashpee Selectmen Andrew Gottlieb,

“We have been attempting since June of 2016 to sit down and have a joint meeting with tribal leadership, we didn’t hear a peep.”

As things stand now the extension will expire on February 28th, a short term arrangement designed to bring tribal leaders to the table.

At the meeting, Gottlieb said that a number of letters have gone ignored by the tribe, despite previous agreements to meet on shared interests.

The memorandum became necessary in 2016 after the tribe received federal protection for its lands, exempting it from Mashpee municipal services.

“It’s been a year we’ve heard nothing,” said Gottlieb, “When we try to get a simple conversation going about shared priorities, of which I believe we have many, we don’t get anything.”

Outside emergency response issues, Mashpee officials hope to open a dialogue on mutual concerns including shellfishing, housing, land-planning, and wastewater management, as well as a number of legal questions regarding the tribe’s federal land-in-trust agreement.

The board of selectmen may have showed their hand however, as board chair Thomas O’Hara promised to continue to extent the agreement whether or not tribal officials agreed to talk.


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