Interior said the Mashpee—descendants of indigenous Americans who gathered with the Pilgrims in celebration of the first
Interior also said Mashpee did not meet IRA’s definition of “Indian.”
looking to casino gambling revenues to fund government services for some 2,600 tribal citizens.
“This is a tremendous blow to our tribe, without whom America’s earliest settlers would not have survived,”
Mashpee Chairman Cedric Cromwell says. “It should also alarm tribal nations all across Indian Country.
“I do not believe that our country—this great nation that our tribal citizens have fought and died for—wants to return to the dark days of taking sovereign Indian land away from indigenous communities.
“If neither Congress nor the federal courts weigh in to stop this, the Trump administration will return the Mashpee Wampanoag once again to landlessness,
Force us to close our schools and social service programs and lead us back to despair and hopelessness.”
Interior’s decision illustrates the often-volatile ebb and flow of federal Indian policy from one administration to the next, particularly when it comes to providing trust lands for indigenous communities.
Sweeping Pendulum Following a virtual moratorium on tribal trust lands under President George W.
Bush (2001 to 2009), Interior under Obama placed some 600,000 acres in trust for Indian governments. The pendulum is again swinging the other way.
The Trump administration is taking a hard line on land-trust applications from tribes, particularly when it involves casino gambling.
“The administration is obviously not excited about having land taken into trust,” says John Echohawk, a Pawnee and director of the Native American Rights Fund.
“As you recall, the Bush administration had problems with that, too. “This all revolves around Carcieri and what constitutes federal jurisdiction in 1934.
The Obama administration had issued guidance on that and Mashpee Wampanoag met that criterion.
This is a tremendous blow to our tribe But this administration says they don’t.
“Tribes have to deal with whatever federal policy is out there,” Echohawk says. “That’s kind of the way it’s been.”
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