Massachusetts Tribe Regains Federal Acceptance for Taunton Land

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Posted on: December 23, 2021, 04:35h. 

Last up-to-date on: December 23, 2021, 04:36h.

A Massachusetts tribe that has for several years been battling for its federal land rights to establish a $1 billion on line casino resort has ultimately been dealt the hand it is so extensive sought.

Massachusetts tribe casino Taunton MashpeeMassachusetts tribe casino Taunton Mashpee
The land pictured in Taunton, Ma., that has sat vacant for more than a decade has last but not least discovered a long-lasting spot in the US federal have confidence in. With this week’s historic Interior Section ruling, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is a major action nearer to creating its Massachusetts casino vacation resort. (Impression: Getty)

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs this 7 days shut the books on a authorized circumstance that has dragged on for three presidential administrations. The ultimate verdict is that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in truth has ancestral ties to the location where it purchased 321 acres additional than a 10 years back, and possesses the legal rights to have that land taken into federal belief.

The DOI concluded that the tribal house in Taunton and Mashpee rightly deserves to be held in rely on by the United States. The designation clears the way for the Native American tribe to construct a Course II on line casino.

Native People can run this sort of bingo-primarily based gaming on their tribal home held in the have faith in. But for Class III gaming — slot devices and desk online games — the tribe must enter into a gaming compact with the point out.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is a person of only two federally recognized tribes in Massachusetts, the other currently being the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head on Martha’s Vineyard.

Tale of Two Interiors

The DOI in 2015 beneath the Obama administration took the Wampanoag Tribe’s 321 acres into federal rely on. The tribe declared a $1 billion integrated casino vacation resort enhancement on 151 acres in Taunton known as the First Light Vacation resort and Casino, the venture backed by Malaysia-centered gaming and hospitality conglomerate Genting Group.

Local opposition in Taunton, having said that, stalled the large enterprise. And then in March of 2020, the DOI less than the Trump administration informed the Mashpees that it was reversing its 2015 selection and evicting the 321 acres from the federal belief.

The DOI in 2020 said the land should really not be acknowledged into the have faith in due to the fact the Mashpee Tribe was not federally recognized when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934.

Politics ended up partly credited for the 2020 Interior go. Trump was at the time engaged in a bitter dispute with Massachusetts US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D), who the then-president referred to as “Pocahontas.”

Warren and other users of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation released and backed a bill in DC that would build the Mashpee land as sovereign irrespective of where the DOI stood.

This week’s DOI ruling below the Biden administration sides with the 2015 Inside viewpoint. Bryan Newland, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, says this verdict is final.

I locate that statutory authority for attaining the Parcels exists beneath the Indian Reorganization Act,” Newland wrote in a 55-page conclusion. “The 2015 decision to get these Parcels in have confidence in very first manufactured by then-Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn need to be affirmed.”

Tribe Celebrates Consequence

Newland’s letter, dealt with to Mashpee Wampanoag Chair Brian Weeden, “confirms the 2015 conclusion to obtain the Parcels in trust as the Tribe’s reservation.” The Indian Affairs assistant secretary explained his conclusion was based mostly on “extensive documents in the Tribe’s record” and “numerous historic resources and modern-day archeological and tutorial sources.”

Weeden suggests the DOI verdict assures the tribe prosperity for generations to arrive.

This is a momentous working day for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,” he declared. “While the injustices inflicted upon us are not able to be erased, we can glimpse to the long term — a long run of liberty, a future of prosperity, and a upcoming of peace.”