Massachusetts Tribe Regains Fed Approval for Land In which $1B Casino Proposed
Posted on: December 23, 2021, 04:35h.
Final updated on: December 23, 2021, 05:02h.
A Massachusetts tribe that has for years been fighting for its federal land rights in buy to to create a $1 billion casino resort has last but not least been dealt the hand it’s so extended sought.
The Division of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs this week closed the books on a legal case that has dragged on for three presidential administrations. The final verdict is that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe indeed has ancestral ties to the area the place it purchased 321 acres a lot more than a decade in the past. Hence, it possesses the rights to have that land taken into federal believe in.
The DOI concluded that the tribal residence in Taunton and Mashpee rightly deserves to be held in believe in by the United States. The designation clears the way for the Native American tribe to build a Class II casino.
Native Americans can operate such bingo-based gaming on their tribal property held in the trust. But for Class III gaming — slot machines and table games — the tribe need to enter into a gaming compact with the state.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is one particular of only two federally acknowledged tribes in Massachusetts. The other is the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard.
Tale of Two Interiors
The DOI in 2015 below the Obama administration took the Wampanoag Tribe’s 321 acres into federal trust. The tribe announced strategies for a $1 billion integrated casino resort improvement on 151 acres in Taunton called the 1st Light Resort and Casino. The venture is backed by Malaysia-based mostly gaming and hospitality conglomerate Genting Group.
Nearby opposition in Taunton, however, stalled the huge undertaking. And then, in March of 2020, the DOI underneath the Trump administration informed the Mashpees that it was reversing its 2015 selection and evicting the 321 acres from the federal believe in.
The DOI in 2020 said the land need to not be accepted into the believe in because the Mashpee Tribe was not federally recognized when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934.
Politics have been partially credited for the 2020 Interior move. Trump was, at the time, engaged in a bitter dispute with Massachusetts US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), who the president referred to as “Pocahontas.”
Warren and other members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation launched and backed a bill in DC that would set up the Mashpee land as sovereign, irrespective of exactly where the DOI stood.
This week’s DOI ruling under the Biden administration sides with the 2015 Interior viewpoint. Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, says this verdict is ultimate.
I discover that statutory authority for acquiring the Parcels exists underneath the Indian Reorganization Act,” Newland wrote in a fifty five-web page conclusion. “The 2015 choice to get this kind of Parcels in believe in 1st created by then-Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn must be affirmed.”
Tribe Celebrates Outcome
Newland’s letter, addressed to Mashpee Wampanoag Chair Brian Weeden, “confirms the 2015 determination to acquire the Parcels in believe in as the Tribe’s reservation.” The Indian Affairs assistant secretary mentioned his conclusion was based on “extensive paperwork in the Tribe’s record” and “numerous historical sources and modern archeological and academic sources.”
Weeden says the DOI verdict assures the tribe prosperity for generations to come.
This is a momentous day for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,” he declared. “While the injustices inflicted upon us cannot be erased, we can seem to the long term — a future of freedom, a future of prosperity, and a future of peace.”