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Stand With Mashpee

The Department of Interior Issued Its First Carcieri Decision on September 7, 2018.

The Department of Interior has refused to reaffirm its authority to confirm the status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's reservation. This could result in the tribe's reservation being removed from trust and disestablished.

Throughout American History there seems to have been a slow and steady drive to disenfranchise Native American Lands that have been held in trust by the federal government. In March, during the onset of the national COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs told the Mashpee Wamponag tribe that its reservation would be disestablished and its land taken out of trust according to a directive issued by Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt. The Chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe, Cedric Cromwell, questioned the driving force behind the federal trustee’s crusade against the Wampanoag reservation. He stated, “Today’s action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust. He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing.”

As you can see in the above maps the shrinkage of Indian Country has been enormous. Many predict that if Mashpee loses its case against the Department of The Interior, this will result in more tribes losing its sovereignty as well. The Associated Press reported:

The case was a largely semantic debate centered on whether the tribe could be considered "Indian" under the 1934 [Indian Reorganization Act], which created the process for taking lands into trust for tribes, among other things.

Jean-Luc Pierite, head of the North American Indian Center of Boston, sent Mashpee Wampanoag leaders an email in which he labeled the federal government's action an existential crisis for all tribes federally recognized after 1934. The Wampanoag gained federal recognition during President George W Bush's administration in 2007. Pierite warned that The Department of Interior's actions to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation without a court order proposes a threat to other reservations across the United States that might similarly be removed from trust at the discretion of the secretary of the interior. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has managed to fair well in court and hold on to its sovereignty and land. However, despite winning several small battles in court , its fight is far from over.

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