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Julie Moraine July 28, 2020 3 min read
Mashpee Tribe to Retain Land, U.S. House of Representatives Decides
The Mashpee Tribe has won a court case against the Trump Administration which attempted to take away 300 acres of land from the tribe, reversing a 2015 decision passed by former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.
Massachusetts Mashpee Tribe Wins Against Aggressive Land Takeover
Tribes in Massachusetts can finally relax after the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of legislation that would stop the Trump administration from rescinding the tribe’s ownership of contested reservation lands in the state, the Associated Press reported.
The amendment, which was passed with a Democratic majority on Friday, prevents the Interior Department from revoking a previous decision passed in 2015, which would have effectively taken 300 acres of land from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and given it back to the state.
To get ahead of further complications, the legislation also prevents the agency from reversing a corresponding declaration that affirms the tribe’s sovereignty over the reservation, and allows the Mashpee Wampanoag members to build a casino if they choose to, as guaranteed by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
Commenting on the developments, U.S. Representative Joseph Kennedy III, said that the Trump administration has been trying to pry away lands from the tribe while masking it as attempts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak.
According to Kennedy, the amendment will make sure that the administration cannot proceed with those efforts or make similar inroads in trying to dispute the tribe’s sovereignty.
U.S. Representative William Keating, a Democrat from Massachusetts, endorsed the legislation as he saw it important to limit the administration’s reach in undermining the tribe’s sovereign rights. Keating didn’t hesitate to stress the importance of the issue by describing it as being a dispute about “people, their rights, their health, their education, and their livelihoods.”
President Trump Goes After the Tribes
President Trump chose to pursue a sterner and what some described as unconstitutional move against the tribe. In 2015, his administration chose to reverse a 2015 decision by former U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration, which put the land into trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag.
However, according to President Trump’s administration, the decision was unconstitutional as the Mashpee Wampanoag had been only recognized federally recently, the 2015 statement said. However, the Cape Cod–based tribe has decided to challenge the attempt on its sovereignty legally and sought to take the fight in a Washington D.C. court.
Last month, a federal judge in Washington ordered the Interior Department to halt all attempts to carry on with the revocation process. Cedric Cromwell, who is the tribe’s chairman, has commented on the passage of the bill that his homeland wouldn’t be taken away.
The tribe owns 300 acres in the town of Mashpee, which is close to the Rhode Island state line, a state where sports betting has been legalized already.