- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — A government plan to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation has been put on a temporary hold after lawyers for the U.S. Dept. of Interior agreed it would refrain from taking the Tribe’s land out of trust for 45 days.
A federal judge has agreed to temporarily halt the process in a ruling issued in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. In court documents, Judge Paul L. Friedman said the Tribe’s request for a temporary restraining order would be temporarily suspended as long as the DOI refrains from taking the land out of trust.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe had filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on March 31 to keep the DOI from taking 321 acres of tribal land out of federal trust. The trust lands at issue include approximately 170 acres in the town of Mashpee, Mass. and approximately 151 acres in the town of Taunton, Mass.
The court filing states that the DOI agreed to "refrain from completing the ministerial tasks necessary to record transfer of the land out of trust, revoke the reservation proclamation, or annul the gaming eligibility described in the [DOI] March 27 memorandum for a periofd of 45 days from March 31, 2020 o and including May 15, 2020."
The DOI was ordered to file its oppositions for the Tribe's preliminary injunction on or before April 20, 2020. The Tribe will file its reply on or before May 5.
The ruling comes a day after a bipartisan group of U.S. House members sent a letter to the Senate, urging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to take up legislation that would protect the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe from a federal government effort to disestablish their reservation.
The letter, dated April 3, urges the Senate to pass H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, which would reaffirm the trust status of Tribal land taken into trust in 2015 by the Obama Administration. The legislation, introduced by Reps. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.) passed the house in May 2019 by the House 275-146 in a bipartisan vote.
The move by the Dept. of Interior to disestablish the Tribe’s reservation during the global COVID-19 pandemic, has generated criticism and media attention from around the world. The move would impact the Tribe’s ability to provide health, safety and other services to its members and could have an impact on other tribes around the country.
How to help Native News Online: Send us news. Sign up for our daily enewsletter. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Share our articles. You can also donate to Native News Online here. Most importantly, take care of yourself. Megwetch.
More Stories Like ThisQ&A: Heather Miller, Illinois State Museum Director of Tribal Relations
Senate Introduces Legislation to Support Tribal Economic Development
Department of the Interior Launches Indigenous Food Hubs
Food Sovereignty Initiative is in Full Swing at Zuni Youth Enrichment Project
Cortez Masto, Gallego Introduce BADGES Act to Strengthen Tribal Law Enforcement
Do you appreciate a Native perspective on the news?
For the past decade-plus, we’ve covered the important Indigenous stories that are often overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the toppling of colonizer statues during the racial equity protests, to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools, we have been there to provide a Native perspective and elevate Native voices.
Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation this month to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked. Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10. Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news.
Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you.