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Saturday, January 9, 2016

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Federal Government Designates Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Lands As A Reservation

MASHPEE – The federal government has officially designated the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s lands as a reservation, the final hurdle needed before the tribe begins their $500 million resort casino project in Taunton.
The declaration was published today in the federal register by the U.S. Department of the Interior, two months after land in both Taunton and Mashpee was placed into trust by the federal government on behalf of the tribe. The tribe has 321 acres in both towns under its control.
“This cements our right to self-determination now and for future generations,” said Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell. “After decades of painstaking work, we are overjoyed the government of the United States has officially issued this reservation proclamation, as we are witnessing the re-birth of our nation.”
The proclamation establishes a land base for tribal self-government under federal law. The tribe has come to Mutual Aid Agreements with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Taunton. Tribal officials say the move also means they can move forward with immediate infrastructure in Mashpee, including the establishment of emergency services on Tribal lands.
Tribal leaders are also working on a Mutual Aid Agreement with the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Office to establish dispatch services, a holding cell, and a booking room.
“Re-establishing sovereignty and building a modern nation is no small task,” said Cromwell. “In addition to establishing formal relationships with state and municipal agencies in relation to emergency services, we’ve also adopted a body of criminal law that essentially mirrors state law. Working in conjunction with our Tribal court system, tribal law will be enforced by recently deputized tribal police officers, each of whom has extensive law enforcement experience.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has approximately 2,600 citizens.
The tribe was federally recognized in 2007. Federally recognized Native American tribes are allowed to build casinos on native land, or land that has been taken into federal trust.
The 2011 law that legalized casino gambling in Massachusetts provided for a casino in eastern and western Massachusetts, a slots-only casino, and a casino set-aside for a federally recognized Native American tribe.
The state’s gaming commission has also been considering the possibility of issuing another commercial casino license for southeastern Massachusetts.
MGM Resorts is planning a casino for Springfield, while Wynn Resorts is looking to build a gaming resort in Everett. The slots-only casino has already opened in Plainville.
By Matt McCarthy, Newscenter

Feds place Mashpee Wampanoag tribal lands in trust, paving the way for Taunton casino

January 08, 2016

MASHPEE, Massachusetts — The federal government has placed Mashpee Wampanoag tribal lands in trust as a reservation, paving the way for the Cape Cod tribe to begin construction of a casino in Taunton.

The U.S. Department of Interior's designation was published in the federal register on Friday, less than two months after the Wampanoags transferred formal ownership of approximately 321 acres of lands in Mashpee and Taunton to the federal government to be held in trust.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement the designation "cements our right to self-determination now and for future generations."

In addition to reaffirming the tribe's intent to build a resort casino, Cromwell says the move also allows the Wampanoags to establish public safety services on tribal lands.

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