Mashpee Tribe Hails Senate Reservation Re-affirmation Bill

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell

Published March 28, 2018 

MASHPEE, MASSACHUSETTS – On the heels of bipartisan legislation filed in the U.S. House of Representatives announced last week, Mashpee Wampanoag tribal leaders are praising a Senate bill filed by Sen. Edward Markey and co-sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Warren that also aims to protect the historic Tribe’s reservation lands.

Senate bill, 2628, which is similar to the bill introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. William Keating, D-MA, also seeks to protect the historic Tribe’s reservation lands.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, if passed, would re-affirm the status of the Tribe’s reservation, which ended the Tribe’s landlessness when it was established by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2015.

This Senate bill, which is also called the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, was introduced in the Senate last Thursday.

“I would very much like to thank the outstading leadership of Senators Markey and  Warren on this bill to protect our ancestral homeland,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell. “This bill is further evidence that Congress, in both the House and Senate, see it as the honorable and just thing to do — re-affirm our right to a reservation for our people and to ensure that our Tribe will be treated equally under the law as other federally recognized tribes.”

A technical legal challenge to the Department’s legal reasoning in establishing the reservation and subsequent federal district court opinion has gravely endangered the status of the reservation.

Without legislative action to re-affirm the Interior Departments September 2015 decision that established the Mashpee tribe’s initial reservation, the Department may disestablish the Tribe’s existing reservation and make the Mashpee Wampanoag the first tribe in the modern era to suffer another land loss at the hands of the federal government.

Losing its reservation status will cause the Tribe to close its school, abandon a tribal housing project, forfeit federal environmental grants, and divert funding designated for critical social services.

As the state of Massachusetts prepares to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing, Cromwell re-iterated that there is no better time than now for the U.S. Congress to re-affirm the ancestral lands of the Mashpee Wampanoag.

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