Mashpee tribe receives support for casino land bill
Congress to reconsider a Department of Interior decision denying the tribe’s land claims
With the new year comes a new Congress and new hope for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe. The tribe previously was denied rights to land it held in trust that was destined for a casino. Since then, it has fought to have the trust reinstated and is hoping that the new Congress will see things from its point of view.
According to Cedric Cromwell, the tribe’s chairman, “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.”
A bill was reintroduced this past Monday by U.S. Representatives Joe Kennedy and William Keating to have the land returned to the tribe. However, a lawyer representing local residents has already come forward to say that any attempt to make the legislation law would immediately be met with a legal challenge. Attorney David Tennant, who previously won the land grab dispute, said, “Congress can’t just say, ‘We’re going to change the outcome in a particular case’.”
The tribe was granted rights to the land by the Department of Interior (DoI) before a U.S. District Court revoked those rights in July 2016. At the time, the tribe had already broken ground on a casino, but the courts asserted that the DoI had overstepped its authority in putting the land into trust. Although willing to support the tribe in its efforts to retain the land following that decision, the DoI has since stepped back, saying that it would not be able to hold the land any longer.