Wampanoag Tribe Dramatically Impacted by Government Shutdown

MASHPEE – The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe says the extended partial federal government shutdown is dramatically impacting its ability to operate.

Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said it is currently impossible to contact the federal officials with whom they routinely coordinate.

The tribe has been unable to draw down funds from Housing and Urban Development for housing programs, or obtain a lease approval for a low income housing project.

The food pantry will also soon be impacted as food and nutrition funding comes from federal dollars.

The tribe is also unable to check the status of its Natural Resource Department grant submission to U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

“This grant is critical to our shellfish hatchery maintenance,” Cromwell said.

There are also several Natural Resource funding submissions that total about $240,000 which are pending, but the tribe has no way of knowing whether they have been approved.

“Even funding that has been made available is not being distributed, and we understand that we will have a 60-180 day delay when federal workers do return,” Cromwell said.

Cromwell said the tribe has already had to cut back on services it provides to citizens due to the uncertainty of its reservation status.

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 and caused financial setbacks prompting program cuts and layoffs.

“To deal with this shutdown as we fight to hold onto our reservation land is devastating,” Cromwell said. “All of this underscores why we need the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation Reaffirmation Act passed so we can pursue our own economic development and not have to rely so heavily on the federal government for aid.”

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

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

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