MASHPEE, Mass. — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council passed a resolution at a Sept. 30 council meeting supporting Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for president, marking the first time ever the tribe has supported a presidential candidate.

“The Mashpee Wampanoag have resided upon its Indigenous territory since time immemorial and are committing to being good stewards and protecting our land for future generations,” Cedric Cromwell, Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation, wrote in a letter to Vice President Biden. “Notwithstanding our efforts to comply with the stringent regulatory framework required to secure our land base, currently the federal government has abandoned its effort to protect our reservation in contravention of its trust responsibility. We thank Vice President Biden for his public and unwavering support for our efforts. We know that a Biden-Harris administration will not seek to erase the Mashpee Wampanoag and our rich history that is woven into the tapestry of this country.”

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, also known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited present-day Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. After a process lasting more than three decades, the Mashpee Wampanoag were re-acknowledged as a federally recognized tribe in 2007. The Mashpee tribe currently has approximately 2,700 enrolled citizens.

In March 2020, the Secretary of the Interior ordered that the tribe's reservation be "disestablished" and its land taken out of trust. However, in June, the District Court of D.C. granted a summary judgment on behalf of the Mashpee, ordering that the Interior review the matter and issue new findings. The judge in the case wrote that the Interior Department’s actions to rescind the tribe’s reservation designation were “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law.”

In the letter to Biden, Cromwell acknowledged the former vice president’s support in the case. 

“We also know that a Biden-Harris administration will stand with Indian Country as they have stood with us in this fight. We are confident that Vice President Biden will ensure that self-governance and sovereignty for tribal nations reigns supreme,” Cromwell said. “Such an administration will uphold its federal trust responsibility to all tribal nations and strengthen the government-to-government relations that have been so sorely depredated. We urge our fellow tribal nations and sister tribes to support the Biden-Kamala campaign and join this effort.”

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