Good day Tribal Family,

We received notification today from the Department of Interior that they will issue a decision regarding our Category 1 Land Into Trust, on or before June 27.

Once we have received a decision, I will immediately call for a General Membership meeting.

I ask everyone to continue the strong flow of healthy and positive Medicine.

We cannot succumb to viciousness of any sort.

We are Mashpee Wampanoag, Proud and Extremely Strong!

Kutâputunumuw!

“The Right Side Of History…”

Greetings Tribal Family,

His remains were scattered far and wide. But, on May 13, in Warren, Rhode Island, we laid to rest – for the second and final time– one of the most important figures in our Tribe’s history. 8sâmeeqan (pronounced oosa-meekkwan), as you know was a Wampanoag Massasoit who signed the first treaty with the Puritan Pilgrims. He was a Supreme Sachem for the 69 tribes that made up the Wampanoag Nation when the Mayflower first dropped anchor off the coast of Provincetown before landing on Plymouth Rock. For thousands of years before that, our ancestors lived on and ruled the land that stretched from Gloucester Bay across southeastern Massachusetts to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. As our Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Director Ramona Peters said,”8sâmeeqan stood at the historical crossroad between the indigenous people of this land and the origins of what would eventually become the United States of America.” In the 17th century, when our ancestors first encountered the early settlers, 8sâ- meeqan had a vision of how we could all live together. That vision helped to ensure 50 years of peace between the English and Wampanoag — until he died in 1665, ten years before the King’s Phillips War. Fast forward to 1851. 8sâmeeqan’s grave on Burrs Hill overlooking Narragansett Bay was unearthed by railroad construction, looted and treated like a sideshow instead of a sacred burial site of human remains that deserved the same respect and decency afforded to Europeans.

Thankfully we’ve had a long line of strong, forward thinking leaders that followed our Massasoit 8sâmeeqan. Several of our tribal leaders, both past and present, had a hand in drafting NAGPRA, a federal law enacted in 1990 that requires museums to return the remains so they can be re-interred in their original burial sites. Over the past two decades, the Wampanoag Repatriation Confederation – made up of tribal members representing the Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Assonet Wampanoag – have been engaged in painstaking historical detective work. They managed to recoup the remains from seven museums across the country and re-acquire the grave contents of 42 burials and 658 funerary objects removed from the burial ground at the edge of 8sâmeeqan’s village of Sowams, now known as the Town of Warren. I share this history with you because it’s a microcosm of the struggle we face today. Over the past 400 years, colonization almost wiped us out. We who remain have been nearly squeezed off our land. But, ever since our Tribe was granted federal acknowledgement in 2007, the tide has begun to turn. In September of 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior declared 150 acres in Mashpee and 170 acres in Taunton as our initial reservation land. The process of repatriation for 8sâmeeqan’s ancestors had begun. We started construction on our First Light Resort & Casino to uplift our people — a path forward for our people to become economically self-sufficient so that we can reach a place where we no longer rely on government assistance to sustain our tribal government. This forward movement was halted by a lawsuit filed by a group of antiIndian activists, initially funded by an outof-state competing casino developer. Our history, sovereignty, and self-sufficiency has been treated with the same looters mentality that scattered the remains of 8sâmeeqan by this small group of plaintiffs. But, in the next few weeks, we will get word from the Interior Department on a revised Record-of-Decision. We have submitted reams of evidence to prove what we already know: our Tribe more than meets the criteria the DOI needs to issue a positive finding. Let’s stand together as one nation and prepare to embrace the future our Creator has in store for us. There’s no doubt we are on the right side of history and because of that, I believe truth and justice will prevail for our people, despite our enemies best efforts to keep us from claiming what is rightfully ours.

Kutâputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Important Update from Chairman Cromwell: Department of Interior to issue decision on or before June 19!

Dear Tribal Family

Late last week the  U.S. Interior Department informed Tribal leadership that a new decision on the historic tribe’s land status is expected to be announced soon.

More specifically, the Interior Department said it would issue a new decision on or before June 19, 2017!!

We are confident that a new ROD (Record-Of-Decision) from the Interior Department will reaffirm what has already been well-established and documented: we have lived on this land for thousands of years and it is only right that we remain!

As you recall, on September 18, 2015, the initial ROD that re-established our reservation land was issued by the Interior Department under what is known as “Category 2” of the Indian Reorganization Act — living continuously on an existing reservation.

Shortly after that decision, a group of anti-Indian activists in East Taunton filed a suit challenging the Interior Department’s authority to hold land in trust under Category 2. Although a federal district court Judge William Young ruled in favor of the plaintiffs last summer, the same judge later ruled that the DOI could revise the initial ROD under Category 1, which establishes that the tribe was under federal jurisdiction before 1934, the year the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted.

Frankly for the Department of Interior to turn this around so quickly is remarkable. Of course, we hope it’s sooner rather than later, but this gives us certainty there will be a decision very soon.

The decision this week by the U.S. Justice Department to withdraw from a Category 2 appeal makes sense in light of the pending Interior Department decision, which will supersede the lawsuit filed against the Interior Department last year. However, we understood that the DOJ decision to withdraw under Category 2 was a possibility and for that reason, intervened to assert the Tribe’s interest in the appeal.

It’s unfortunate that anti-Indian activists have created a legal side show in attempt to deprive us of our sovereign right to sustain our culture and government, and to develop First Light Resort & Casino as a means of economic uplift for our people and the City of Taunton.

We’ve been challenged every step of the way, and each step we have prevailed!

Kutâputunumuw!

Chairman’s Message as shared in April 2017 Nashauonk Mittark Newsletter

Greetings Tribal Family,

We are a strong, united nation that’s achieved so much over the past few years and we have amazing opportunities on the horizon. I can see it…Mashpee is shining bright. We have a great team of dedicated staff in our Community and Government Center working hard to provide services to our nation and they’re doing a wonderful job. We also have a Tribal Council that’s energized and committed to tackling some of our most pressing needs and achieving real success. This is where we draw our strength – our unity – and it’s why Mashpee is respected at home and across this great country.

I can say this because I’ve spent a good amount of time on the road over the past few weeks and listened to how politicians, business leaders and tribal heads respond when our Tribe enters the room. Just recently I was able to spend some time in Washington D.C. making sure our voice is heard, in Las Vegas at RES 2017 Economic Business and Development Summit gauging the current economic climate in Indian Country and right here at home working with Council and our amazing team on issues, like substance abuse, that need immediate attention.  It’s been a busy month, but progress doesn’t sleep.

Let’s talk for a minute about economic development in Indian Country, because we have real opportunities in both the short and long-term that we need to explore. I’m so glad that I took the time to attend the RES 2017 Economic Business and Development Summit last month. It proved to be a resourceful and competent conference.

Tribes like the Rosebud Sioux Tribe in South Dakota are developing tribally chartered corporations that manage a diverse portfolio of tribally owned businesses – taking advantage of tax incentives, federal programs, grant opportunities and reservation lands. These corporations are getting into everything from agriculture and financing to government services and information technology. They’re also enjoying an immense amount of success in the federal governments 8A program.

As your Tribal Chairman, I have a goal of inspiring, researching and bringing back economic development, jobs and forward advancement for a strong Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal economy. So how do we do this? It’s a lot easier said than done, but we’ve already started down the road with the development of a strong foundation to guide this engine with our Planning and Development Department and the formation of our Community Development Corporation (CDC). With the foundation set, we can now look at identifying viable business opportunities that are right for our market and developing a strategic plan to manage our growth.  Everything must be in-line with a forward thinking mind-set with a “can do” effortless approach.

I also spent a good amount of time in Washington D.C. a few weeks ago. It’s important that we take the time to meet with the new administration and reconnect with elected officials to discuss the issues close to our heart. I also had the pleasure of meeting with the newly appointed U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.  He has a strong record of being pro-sovereignty and someone who has made it a priority to protect the land. I’m certainly optimistic that Interior Secretary Zinke will do right by our tribe.

For me, it was important that this administration heard right from me about the positive economic impact our projects, like First Light Resort and Casino, will have on the region. Tribes are pouring billions and billions of dollars into the U.S. All of these investments we’re creating – from resort casinos to business enterprises – are feeding the larger economy with jobs and revenue. That’s the story that needed to be told, and I’m glad to say this administration understood it and that it aligns nicely with their goals.

With everything going on at the federal and state level, we can’t forget about our local elections. The town of Mashpee will be holding its annual election on May 16. I strongly encourage Mashpee residents to gather info on all the candidates running, from Selectman to School Committee. These local elections have a profound impact on our Tribe and I ask you to exercise your right to vote…our power is in our unity. I also want to thank Brian Weeden for stepping up to run for School Committee. Brian has evolved into a certain leader of our future and has dedicated much of his energy toward building our Youth Council members’ leadership skills here at home and on a National level. Brian will be a great addition to the school committee, but needs your support. Please make sure your voice is heard.

Like I said earlier, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, but progress doesn’t sleep. We’ve got a strong team and I promise to keep our nation moving forward today and tomorrow.

Tribal Council Moves to Combat Opioid Crisis with Heightened Urgency!

Dear Tribal Family,

As we mourn the tragic death-by-overdose of two more Tribal Citizens over the past two weeks, I am writing you, not only to give voice to our profound collective grief, but also as a call to action.

Grief must be given its place. However, we cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed in the face of tragedy. That is why I convened a special meeting on Tuesday that included the entire Tribal Council, our Tribal Coordinating Committee (TCC), top administrators with Indian Health Services, our Medicine Man as well as various Tribal department Directors and community members with background in treatment and recovery.

We had a candid discussion about what services we are currently providing. We examined a range of complicated and difficult truths – from how we can improve our recovery programs to ramping up our efforts when it comes to intervention and prevention. Our community has been disproportionately impacted by this scourge. We have lost far too many people to the disease of addiction.

As a result of our very productive meeting, several things became abundantly clear. Not only do we need to expand our efforts to inform and educate Tribal citizens of the many addiction prevention services and programs we already have in place, we also need to re-allocate resources and sharpen our focus on what else needs to be done.

I am happy to report that on Tuesday, Tribal Council took action on a number of important initiatives.

When it comes to recovery, addiction doesn’t go away after a few days in treatment. It is a life-long disease that must be managed. We also recognize that accessing long-term treatment facilities is difficult, and at times, impossible to find. That’s why we unanimously voted to move forward to create a plan to have our own transitional “half-way” houses – one for men and one for women; a safe, sober place they can go after treatment where those of us struggling to overcome this disease can be surrounded by support.

We will bolster our staffing to include a “Human Services Case Manager” who will handle all aspects of a crisis, including crisis’ that occur that are “non-ICWA” by nature in order to encompass the array of complex situations that occur. This individual will be assigned to the opioid crisis as lead intervention manager.

We also realized the need for a dedicated “Hot-Line” phone number for people to call in emergency situations, which is why we voted to establish a crisis hotline for Tribal Citizens – whether that be someone struggling with addiction or a family member or friend dealing with someone experiencing a drug or alcohol-induced crisis. Additionally we approved a motion that designates 3 individuals to be on-call 24 hours a day to assist in the emergency situations.

Also, Tribal Council has unanimously voted to establish a “Tribal Intervention/Crisis Response Team” to address alcohol and substance abuse. Tribal members who are interested in serving on this team, will be appointed by Tribal Council.

I am also well aware that our focus must not only be on treatment and recovery services but also on prevention to ensure that our Tribal youth have the tools and support they need to help them avoid getting ensnared in what can only be described as a death-trap.

Our teams will be coordinating a Community Forum in the near future to educate our Tribal citizens on the services available specific to this epidemic and how we will continue to face this crisis in a unified way so all Tribal members who are in crisis, recovery and their Loved ones and support groups can also be provided the support they need.

We are taking a “head on” approach and will arm our community with the resources to combat and overcome this disease that is threatening our People.

I care deeply about our people and I realize that addiction is a challenging issue to address – both from a governmental and personal stand-point. It hits close to home. Many of us grew up in a time when these issues were not discussed openly because of the stigma and fear of shame. But that time is over. We need to address this head-on. We are losing too many of our cherished family members and Tribal Citizens to this disease.

Please join me in this fight for our lives. Together, we can bring healing to our community. Together, we can support each other and find effective solutions.

Kutâputunumuw!

Mashpee Wampanoag Homeland Security Emergency Management Department Snow Storm and Alert System

A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for all of Eastern Mass.

Snow will begin Saturday morning January 7, 2017 and will taper off Saturday night from west to east.

South Eastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands will experience the brunt of the storm with between 12 to 24 inches of snow possible and wind gusts of up to 35 to 45 mph are projected,  as well as near blizzard conditions.

The steadiest and heaviest snow will likely fall late Saturday afternoon and evening.

Travel conditions will be treacherous late Saturday afternoon and evening with a potential for power outages.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Community and Government Center will be set up as a warming station for Tribal members who may experience long term power outages during the storm.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal facility, security and emergency preparedness staff will be on site. There will be cots, blankets emergency food and comfort items available as needed for all tribal members. Please be sure to bring basic items of significance if staying overnight such as, eye glasses, medication, toiletries etc..

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Emergency Management team  and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Police Department will be available Saturday and Saturday night to pick up and drop off tribal members as needed to and from the warming station.

Call Emergency Management Director Nelson Andrews at 774.327.8367 for more information

Important update: Department of Justice and Mashpee Wampanoag file “Notices to Appeal”

Link

Dear Tribal Family,

I want to provide an important update to our Tribal community. Today, Thursday December 8th,  the U.S. Department of Justice and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe filed notices to appeal a federal district court ruling that challenged the federal government’s authority to designate tribal land in Mashpee and Taunton as a reservation.

The notices to appeal were filed with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, which will trigger the case to now be moved to the higher court.

As we recall, on July 28, 2016, a federal district court judge ruled that the U.S. Department of Interior did not have the authority to take land into trust on behalf of our tribe on the basis of what is known as “category 2” under the Indian Reorganization Act. That decision is the subject of the appeal.

This is a continuation of our fight to remain on the land that our ancestors walked upon and lived on for thousands of years.

The initial ROD issued on September 18, 2015 re-established our reservation. The ROD was based on what is known as “category 2” – living continuously on an existing reservation – under the IRA. While a federal judge ruled that the Interior Department did not have the authority to hold land in trust on our behalf under category 2, it could consider revising the ROD and basing it on category 1.

As the appeal moves forward, federal officials will also now consider whether we, as the tribe, are eligible to have our land held in trust under category 1, which would establish that the Tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” at the time of the 1934 law.

Meanwhile, on a parallel track, I received a letter this week from the Bureau of Indian Affairs — which is a division of the Interior Department — saying it was prepared to consider a revision of the initial Record-Of-Decision (ROD) based on the fact that the tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934 when the IRA became law. The Interior Department’s authority to take land into trust on behalf of federally recognized tribes can only be done under one of three categories written into the IRA.

The letter received from the BIA, lays out the timeline on how the agency will proceed with possibly revising its initial ROD so we can maintain our reservation land made up of approximately 170 acres of land in Mashpee and 151 acres of land in Taunton.

The letter goes on to state the administrative process for considering a revision of the initial ROD, setting a January 7, 2017 deadline for the submission of any additional evidence from the Tribe that shows we qualify as being “under federal jurisdiction” as defined by the 1934 law.

I am confident that our Tribal homeland will be preserved by the federal government.

The evidence that our Tribe was under federal jurisdiction in 1934 is compelling. I have no doubt that once all the evidence is reviewed, the Interior Department will issue a revised Record-Of-Decision. We intend to succeed at both.

 Kutâputunumuw!

Message from Chairman Cromwell – Our Aboriginal Rights Are Our Foundation and Birthright!

Wednesday ~ November 23, 2016

Dear Tribal Family,

From time immemorial, we, the Mashpee Wampanoag have been good stewards to the land and water and have always protected our aboriginal territory.  Given what we believe is a tense political climate, we are seeing an increase in hateful acts of prejudice and discrimination throughout our country. 

Unfortunately, our Tribe is not immune to such rhetoric and we have recently been notified of a threatening letter questioning the scope of our aboriginal rights to hunt and fish in our traditional homelands.  

As history has shown, the Tribe shall not cower to such thinly veiled threats and shall vigorously defend the legal rights of our Tribal citizens in the applicable court of law. 

Legal protections of aboriginal rights to hunt and fish are clear and well established under the law.  However, we remind you to please ensure that any applicable regulations (such as the use of F.I.D. cards), Tribal laws and criminal laws are observed and respected when you are pursuing these activities. 

We are now approaching a time of Thanks Giving and encourage our Tribal citizens to exercise their aboriginal rights to hunt and fish freely, peacefully and lawfully. 

Should any person or entity attempt to prevent you from exercising your lawful rights, please contact Tribal Police Chief, Kevin Frye, at (774) 238-8329 immediately for further assistance and avoid escalating any encounter.  The State Environmental Police, local law enforcement and our Tribal Police are apprised of the open threat to our citizens.

Our inherent rights to hunt and fish have existed for thousands of years and shall endure beyond politics, prejudice, persecution and malice. 

 Kutâputunumuw!

The Day Has Arrived….Let Our Voices Be Heard – VOTE!

Good evening Tribal Family,

The Day has arrived!

Tuesday ~ November 8, 2016 will quite possibly mark the most critical Presidential Election in the history of the United States of America.

I urge all Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Citizens, Community members, neighbors, friends Brothers and Sisters across Indian Country…..to VOTE!

We must consider the vision of our future Generations, just as our Ancestors did thousands of years ago. We are in the moment where our actions today are guaranteed to have a wide-reaching ripple affect. It is imperative that we take every measure to protect the next 7 Generations!

The importance and impact of Indian Policy has been brought to the forefront at the federal level over the past 8 years under the Obama Administration with the “White House Tribal Nations Conference,” and the endorsement of the “Generation Indigenous” initiative involving outreach of Tribal Youth across the Nation allowing their voice and concerns a platform, for example. No other Presidential administration has shown more proactive support of Indian Country.

We must give consideration to the major-party candidate who will continue the legacy, rather than consider the alternative who will discard the concerns of Indigenous People across the Land.

Please remember to bring proper identification to your respective polling place when you cast your ballot in the event it is required. Also remember to be mindful if you carry your cell phone to the polls, many precincts restrict use of cell phones in voting areas citing “Federal Election Regulations.”

Above all, always remember, regardless of your candidate or ballot question preference, Your Vote is Your Voice!

Be part of the Process….We need You. Indian Country Needs you!

 Kutâputunumuw!