Interior Appeals Ruling that Blocks Feds From Rescinding Mashpee Wampanoag Lands

“Without providing the Tribe with any warning, and without providing justification or reasoning, the Secretary’s action, unfortunately, is consistent with this Administration’s constant failure to acknowledge or address the history of injustice against our Tribe and all Native Americans, and its utter lack of interest in protecting Tribal lands,” Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement. (Native Business Photo)

While an amendment that passed the U.S. House last month sought to limit the Trump Administration’s constant efforts to undermine the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s rights, the Department of Interior has attempted, once again, to do just that.

READ MORE: House Passes Bill to Protect Mashpee Lands 

Interior has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that barred the department from rescinding a reservation designation for the Mashpee Tribe’s land in Massachusetts. On June 5th, a federal judge blocked the U.S. government from retracting the Tribe’s trust land status. 

READ MORE: Federal Court Sides With Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Land Suit 

But now Interior has filed an appeal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

“Without providing the Tribe with any warning, and without providing justification or reasoning, the Secretary’s action, unfortunately, is consistent with this Administration’s constant failure to acknowledge or address the history of injustice against our Tribe and all Native Americans, and its utter lack of interest in protecting Tribal lands,” Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement.

As Native Business Executive Editor Carmen Davis recently stated:

For years, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been whiplashed back and forth in a legal storm, ironically over whether or not the Tribe — whose ancestors welcomed the first settlers to Plymouth Rock in 1620 — merits a landbase at all. 

It was in late March, in the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe learned that the federal government was moving to remove its lands from trust status. The news came while the Mashpee people, like the rest of the world, were protecting themselves against the onset of the coronavirus crisis. As Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell so beautifully articulated, “a Tribal land base is critical for the exercise of Tribal sovereignty, and for the protection and continuation of Tribal culture, and represents the foundation for Tribal economic development.” 

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