Those who came before us stole these lands from their rightful owners By doing so, they stripped the many Indian tribes of their governments, their cultures, and their freedom. Now, Donald Trump has decided to off-handedly steal the advantages they have on what meager patches of land are left.
The Trump administration is reversing the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation status for 300 across in Massachusetts, according to The Associated Press (AP). Last Friday late, the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs notified them they were losing their tribal authority over their land.
What happens at that point is that the rightful owners do not qualify for a federal trust that provides them housing opportunities, ownership of the natural resources of that land, and other protections regarding tribal culture and “life ways.”
The tribe’s chairman Cedric Cromwell said that Trump’s yes men are bulldozering the tribe’s infrastructure. That includes “an independent judicial system, a police force, and indigenous language school.” At this time, the tribe has housing developments and a one-billion-dollar casino underway.
Cromwell said Trump’s actions were “cruel” and “unnecessary” especially under the cover of the coronavirus pandemic:
‘Talk about being blindsided. It was a sucker punch in the face from the bully you thought was your friend. I thought they were calling to see how we’re doing in all of this. To do it at 4 p.m. on a Friday during a pandemic? That’s sneaky.’
That would set a precedent that concerns tribes across the nation. Advocacy group North American Indian Center representative Jean-Luc Pierite said:
‘This is an existential crisis for tribes. It’s a power grab and a land grab by the Trump administration.’
This a reversal of yet another one of President Barack Obama’s policies. That policy gave the tribe special land designation in 2015. A U.S. Court of Appeals in Boston upheld a lower court decision that “the federal government was not authorized to take land into trust for the Mashpee Wampanoag.”
There are about 600 tribes, including the Mashpee Wampanoag, that maintain their federally recognized designation. The Pacific-based Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians’ reservation status was removed from the federal trust in April 2019. The administrated used an endangered bird species, including the California condor, as its excuse.
Congress passed a defense spending bill that included a provision to allocate over 1,400 acres for the tribe’s housing.
Cromwell told AP that the Mashpee Wampanoag’s would fight the decision about his tribe:
‘These are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. We will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.’
Cromwell told the AP the tribe is nvolved in another lawsuit pending in Washington D.C. So, they have not yet acted against this ruling.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
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