The Interior Ministry reaffirms the reserve status of the tribe

The long contested reservation of a Massachusetts tribe was reaffirmed on Wednesday by the Biden administration.

The US Department of the Interior’s ruling upheld the status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribe’s reservation, Tribe Chairman Brian Weeden said in a written statement.

The ruling means that the tribe’s reserve has remained in federally protected trust status since the reserve land was first placed in trust in November 2015.

“This is a momentous day for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, for Indigenous communities across the country and for advocates for justice,” Weeden said.

The move follows a key tribal victory in February, when the Home Office withdrew a call from the Trump administration to revoke the Federal Reserve designation for tribe lands in Massachusetts.

In 2020, a federal judge barred the Home Office from revoking the tribe’s reserve designation, saying the decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and against the law.”

The Trump administration has appealed. Under the Biden administration, the department dropped the appeal, paving the way for Wednesday’s decision.

The Cape Cod-based tribe was granted more than 300 acres (1.2 square kilometers) of land in trust in 2015 by then-President Barack Obama, a decision that severed government-protected lands federal government needed the tribe to develop its $ 1 billion project. Lightweight casino, hotel and entertainment complex.

The tribe learned last year that the federal government was about to revoke the reserve designation.

The Trump administration had decided that it could not entrust the land because the tribe was not officially recognized as of June 1, 1934. It was the year that the Federal Indian Reorganization Act, which laid the groundwork of modern Indian politics, has become law.

The tribe, whose ancestors are Native Americans who shared a fall harvest meal with pilgrims in 1621, achieved federal recognition in 2007.

Weeden thanked President Biden and other elected officials, including US Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and US Representative William Keating – all Democrats from Massachusetts – for their support.

“Today’s decision allows us to reclaim and protect our cherished land and better serve the Mashpee Tribe for generations to come,” Weeden wrote. “While the injustices inflicted on us cannot be erased, we can look to the future – a future of freedom, a future of prosperity and a future of peace. We wish this not only to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, but to tribal communities across the country. “

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