A new amendment would impose a one-year moratorium on Interior spending to take away lands of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose ancestors greeted the Pilgrims and aided their survival. (Photo Courtesy Mashpee Wampanoag Facebook)
Bill would prevent Interior from spending funds to take Mashpee land out of trust
The U.S. House passed an amendment Friday that protects the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation lands in Taunton and Mashpee, Massachusetts.
The bill would prohibit the Interior from spending funds to reverse the Obama-era decision that established the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s 321 acres as trust land.
For years, the Tribe has engaged in legal battles over threats to the Tribe’s sovereignty and land base. During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration on March 27th revoked the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe — the original inhabitants of these lands who welcomed the first settlers to Plymouth Rock in 1620. Fortunately, victory came for the Mashpee Wampanoag on June 5th, when a federal judge remanded the case to the U.S. Department of Interior to reexamine its previous decision that disestablished the Tribe’s reservation status in Massachusetts.
So legislators took action to protect Mashpee lands, imposing a one-year moratorium Interior expending money to take the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal land out of trust. The amendment, part of a Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bill, was introduced by Massachusetts congressional delegation, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Rep. Bill Keating (D-Mass.) and Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.) with Rep. Deb Haaland (D-New Mexico), a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
“This amendment will limit the Trump Administration’s constant efforts to undermine the Tribe’s rights,” Congressman William R. Keating (D-Massachusetts) said in a statement on Friday. “We all know that for the President, this is about his casino lobbyist friends, but for us and the Tribe, this is about people, their rights, their health, their education, and their livelihoods.”