The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has had a long-standing dispute concerning a small area of approximately 321 acres with the residents of the Cape Cod area. The land was primarily allocated to the tribe, where it was supposed to build an integrated resort that would cost approximately $1 billion.
However, there were some obstacles further on down the road, and Boston federal appeals court summoned a meeting on Feb. 5 to hear both sides state their arguments.
The dispute started five years back when Barrack Obama was still the president of the US. To help the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, Obama gave them this piece of land where the tribe was supposed to build a huge property.
It was supposed to include a casino, hotel, as well as an entertainment resort. However, problems arose soon after that, as local residents sued, arguing that there was no legal possibility to grant that land to the tribe. According to them, the land wasn’t recognized as tribal affiliation at the time the lawmakers passed the trust law.
The main issue here is that the Indian Reorganization Act, which was passed back in 1934, did not actually recognize the tribe back then. Yet, it was exactly after that that the land in trust procedure had started.
Although the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe was able to trace back its ancestors to 1621, the year Native Americans shared their food with the pilgrims, they weren’t officially recognized until 2007.
Back in 2016, a federal judge officially ruled in favor of the locals who sued. According to them, the tribe actually did not meet the standards of the Indian Reorganization Act from 1934 during that time. Therefore, the case was sent for reconsideration to the Interior Department.
After that, the project regarding the $1 billion casino resort was put on hold, but the tribe continued to fight for its right to commence the casino-building process.
Reversal of Fortune
However, it seems that their position was made even worse back in 2018. President Donald Trump reversed the decision made by Obama, meaning that the land was literally taken away from the tribe. Although the House of Representatives tried to make it all back to the way it was by restoring the tribe’s claims to the land, that law did not even manage to make it past the Senate.
It was only natural that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been furious about these decisions. It basically has to fight a legal battle where it would prove that it needs to be considered Indians under federal law.
According to a brief that was filed to the federal court recently, the tribe called the entire decision “absurd.” What they have under their belt are documents and writings where their name is mentioned in relation to the celebration of the first-ever Thanksgiving, when the Indians and the pilgrims shared food.
Therefore, the long-documented history of the tribe should have been sufficient proof of evidence that the tribe should have always been recognized under federal law.
The point is that the local residents do not agree with all of that, and Trump’s administration made things even more complicated. The step forward was taken with the US Court of Appeals hearing First Circuit arguments on Feb. 5, but the entire matter is going to take a while to resolve.
In other words, no concrete decision is expected to be brought any time soon. Until then, both the tribe and the locals will fight for their right to claim the land.