Mashpee Selectmen Back Legislation to Protect Wampanoag Land Rights

MASHPEE- The Mashpee Board of Selectmen will formally back federal legislation that will attempt to end a legal obstacle faced by the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

The issue relates to a U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to take 171 acres of land in Mashpee, and 150 in Taunton and turn them into trust. The tribe is looking to build a casino resort on the land in Taunton.

“Basically, the agreements that we have in place, which always were geared towards protecting the tribe’s land and trust, are being protected, and the commitments that were made mutually between the Tribe and the town back 10 years ago now are being re-affirmed through the language. We are back where we always wanted to be,” said Andrew Gottlieb, Mashpee Selectmen.

“The town has always been supportive of retaining lands and trusts of the Wampanoag Tribe. We had a disagreement and a concern about the specific language that was being put forth in Congress, we kept talking behind the scenes to our attorneys, [and] they were able to come up with language that was mutually agreeable, and the town voted to endorse, along with tribal leadership,” said Gottlieb.

There has been mixed reaction to the request that has been backed by Representative William Keating and the tribe.

A group of residents in Taunton challenged the tribe’s land into trust designation in court and convinced a federal court in Boston to rule that the way the federal government took the land into trust was incorrect.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has been reviewing the application under different parameters.

Mashpee selectmen are urging both the House and the Senate pass the bill as swiftly as possible.

By JOHN BONDAREK, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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