- By Levi Rickert
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of the Interior is planning to appeal the June 5 favorable federal district court ruling handed to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in its battle with the Trump administration to retain its tribal land in trust.
On June 5, Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Interior’s 2018 decision that the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934 was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.”
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell was notified late Friday afternoon of the Interior Department’s intention to appeal.
Cromwell calls the appeal a brazen move during the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the Mashpee tribal community and the toll it's taken on the tribe’s resources.
“This action by the Secretary of the Interior shows contempt for the June 5th ruling in the District Court of D.C. Without providing the Tribe with any warning, and without providing justification or reasoning, the Secretary's action unfortunately is consistent with this Administration's constant failure to acknowledge or address the history of injustice against our Tribe and all Native Americans, and its utter lack of interest in protecting tribal lands,” Cromwell wrote in an update to his tribal citizens.
The appeal keeps the adversarial relationship between the Interior Department’s Indian Affairs and Indian Country alive. Leading national American Indian organizations and tribal officials throughout Indian Country view Indian Affairs’s stance as a serious threat to tribal sovereignty.
“The Secretary is out of step with Indian Country and with scores of both Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have called for the protection of our reservation. More to the point, the Secretary is out of step with the District Court's findings that the Department's actions against our aboriginal land are ‘arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law,’” Cromwell continued.
Friday’s announcement is reminiscent of Cromwell receiving a call on a Friday afternoon on Mar. 27, 2020 from a regional Bureau of Indian Affairs official telling him that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt wanted him to begin disestablishing the Mashpee reservation.
“A typical Trump administration move. They send evil Actions and news on a late Friday afternoon or early evening hoping the news won’t catch on. This is warfare against Indian Country. This is a truck colonizer ‘sneak up’ move. This behavior of the colonizer happened 400 years ago and here we are today,” Cromwell told Native News Online.
Cromwell is asking Indian Country to #StandWithMashpee.
The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs could not be reached for comment.
More Stories Like ThisCatholic Priest Accuses Residential School Survivors of Lying About Abuse
“Tó éí iiná” Water Bottle Raises Funds for Navajo Nation
Indigenous womens’ fellowship aimed at ‘mending the gap’ between Native generations
Merle Sapulpa, Great-grandson of Chief Sapulpa, Passes Away
Navajo Nation Mourns Death of World War II Army and POW Veteran Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Native Perspective. Native Voices. Native News.
We launched Native News Online because the mainstream media often overlooks news that is important is Native people. We believe that everyone in Indian Country deserves equal access to news and commentary pertaining to them, their relatives and their communities. That's why the story you’ve just finished was free — and we want to keep it that way, for all readers. We hope you'll consider making a donation to support our efforts so that we can continue publishing more stories that make a difference to Native people, whether they live on or off the reservation. Your donation will help us keep producing quality journalism and elevating Indigenous voices. Any contribution of any amount — big or small — gives us a better, stronger future and allows us to remain a force for change. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.