Native American Tribe Asks Congress for Help with Reclaiming Reservation
A Native American tribe, the Mashpee Wampanoag, is calling on members of Congress to help protect the status of its reservation after the Trump administration reversed an Obama-era decision to hold its land in trust. “What we’re seeing is a direct assault and attack on Indigenous people’s sovereignty,” Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said. “And sovereignty’s a powerful word.” Former President Barack Obama's administration took the land of the Mashpee into trust in 2015, giving the tribe jurisdiction over the reservation, which is located in Massachusetts. The land in Mashpee and Taunton on Cape Cod would house a 123-unit elder and tribal housing facility and most notably a $1 billion casino and hotel complex, according to Indian Country Today. But rival business owners and casino developers blocked this by suing the government, saying the tribe was not eligible to have land placed into trust according to a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which decided land could only be placed into trust status for tribes that were included in the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act -- which does not include the Mashpee Wampanoag as Indian. In September, the Department of Interior decided not to challenge the ruling. The tribe then filed a lawsuit against the administration, saying its decision was "arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law, and if left unaddressed, will have a devastating impact on the tribe." More here.