Legislation Supporting Wampanoag Land in Trust Re-Filed in D.C.

Cedric Cromwell

MASHPEE – Legislation that would re-establish the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation lands in Mashpee and Taunton is back before lawmakers.

Congressmen William Keating and Joseph Kennedy III re-filed the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act this week.

It was one of the first bills introduced in the new 116th Congress.

The Interior Department reversed a previous decision last year that removed land in trust for the tribe, saying they didn’t qualify under the federal rules.

That move threw their casino resort project in Taunton into limbo. The tribe has also suffered serious financial setbacks since then, prompting program cuts and layoffs.

“With our limited resources dwindling, we have already had to cut back on vital services and programs we had established to serve our Tribal citizens,” said Chairman Cedric Cromwell.

“Should we lose our reservation, our ability to operate as a Tribal government would be crushed.”

As with the previous bill of the same name introduced last year, the new legislation has picked up bipartisan support with three key Republican Congressmen with oversight of Indian Affairs signing on as co-sponsors: U.S. Reps. Don Young (R-AK), Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).

“We are extremely grateful that a bipartisan group of Congressional representatives understands the injustice of taking sovereign land away from the first Americans and have moved swiftly to ensure this nation does not return to the dark days of removing indigenous people from their land,” said Cromwell.

Mashpee Town officials previously announced their support for the bill and praised the re-introduction of the legislation.

“I am pleased that the bill has been filed again and hopefully the outcome will be different in this session,” said Mashpee Town Manager Rodney Collins.

A group of Taunton residents challenged the land in trust and a federal judge in Boston ruled the federal government acted improperly in their initial designation.

“We are the first indigenous Tribal Nation to sign a peace treaty with the Pilgrims and provide the land for them to establish Plymouth Colony,” said Cromwell in statement.

“So it is fitting that one of the first bills to be introduced in this new Congress, in this New Year, is one that would protect our ancestral homelands from being stripped away from us,” he said.


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