Martha’s Vineyard, Aquinnah Cliffs (Kindra Clineff/MOTT, Flickr Creative Commons)
As the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head — also known as the Aquinnah Tribe — battles a lawsuit with Massachusetts over state interference with its right to operate a casino on Tribal settlement lands on the western end of Martha’s Vineyard, Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais represented Indian Country as a panelist for a presidential forum in Sioux City, Iowa.
On Monday, a Massachusetts federal judge granted the Tribe’s bid to amend a judgment in the suit. The determination, by U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, resolved the Tribe’s concerns that the June 19 final judgment — barring the state and the town of Aquinnah from enforcing their gaming laws on the Tribe’s venture — could be amended. Judge Saylor also added the names of Gov. Charles D. Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey and Massachusetts Gaming Commission Chair Cathy Judd-Stein to the suit, at the Tribe’s request.
Meanwhile, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, served on two panels at the LaMere Native American Presidential Forum, held Monday and Tuesday, a first of its kind event. Andrews-Maltais served as a senior advisor to the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs at the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama Administration. After winning election as Tribal Chairwoman in 2016, she has continued the Tribe’s pursuit of a gaming facility in Aquinnah.
“I was just thrilled to be part of this historic event,” said Andrews-Maltais of the presidential forum. “With the exception of the Obama administration, Indian Country has been largely overlooked when it comes to presidential campaigns. It was an honor just to be selected to participate; however, the most important part to me was to be there on the panel with our own Senator Warren.”
Andrews-Maltais has praised a policy by Warren and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico, that addresses chronic underfunding on Tribal economic development initiatives and the undermining of sovereignty.
“Over the years, I’ve worked with the senator and her staff on issues facing Indian Country, and her record on those issues is impressive,” Andrews-Maltais said. “I look forward to continuing to work with both of these wonderful, strong, and determined women to get this proposal in front of Indian Country, so we can begin to redefine how Tribes and Tribal governments are treated by the federal government.”
In February, Warren introduced Andrews-Maltais when she received the 2019 Woman of the Year distinction from the National Congress of American Indians.
“Whether it’s building coalitions among allies or reaching across the aisle to bridge divides, Cheryl is masterful at persuading public policy makers to do what’s right for Native communities. I’ve been grateful for her counsel as we’ve worked together to tackle issues of importance to Indian country,” Warren said in her introduction of Andrews-Maltais, according to CNN. “Congress needs that kind of counsel now more than ever. We need action.”