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.


Apprenticeship Training Opportunity

Dear Tribal Community,

Please see an important notice below from Yvonne Tobey in our Tribal WIA Department about an apprenticeship opportunity for Tribal members. Please share this with anyone who you think may be interested in learning a trade and starting on a pathway to a solid, lucrative career.


Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Apprenticeship Training Program Opportunity

The UA Local #51 Plumbers and Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training Program will be accepting applications for Plumber and Pipefitter – Refrigeration apprentice training.

The applications will be available Monday through Friday, March 4 – 8 and 11 – 15, 2013 from 9:00 am – 12:00 noon at 11 Hemingway Drive, East Providence, RI 02915.

All applicants must apply in person, be at least 18 years of age and have obtained either a high school or GED diploma. Applicants must also have a valid drivers license with them the day they pick up their application.

All applicants are required to take an aptitude test and a math test consisting of basic eighth grade math. They must obtain at least a 70 on the math test in order to continue to an interview.

For more information, please contact Yvonne Tobey in the WIA office at 508.419.6016, ext. 606 or; or David Marland, Training Coordinator at UA Local #51, at 401.943.7301.

IGA Reached

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Government Center


Tribal Members and Tribal Business Contact list (click here)


May 18th, 2012

Bid Announcement

The (Owner) The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council will accept sealed bids from qualified General Contractors for Selective Demolition and Construction at the New Tribal Government Center located at 483 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee, Ma. 02649

Project Description : Two story structural steel framed government and medical offices, archives, meeting rooms and teaching spaces, gymnasium, food preparation of approximately 46,300+- s.f with partial basement of 11,190+- sf. The area of construction is limited to approximately 5 acres of a 57 acre parcel. Demolition of small existing structure, site utilities and site improvements are included.

Advertisement date is Tuesday, May 23, 2012.

Contractor pre-bid “Walk-Thru” at the site is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 10:00am.

Sealed Bids will be received until Thursday: June 19, 2012, 2:00 pm, EST at:
Robinson Green Beretta Corporation
Owner’s Project Manager
50 Holden Street, Providence R.I. 02908
attn: Mr. John Racine.

Bid opening will be Friday June 22, 2012, 10:00 pm EST at:
483 Great Neck Road South,
Mashpee, Ma. 02649

Contract award is anticipated for two week (14 days) after receipt of bids.

Commencement is expected Monday July 16, 2012


Project First Light

TIME : 7.00 AM – 8.00 PM


A press conference took place at City Hall on April 26 to unveil the details of the proposed destination resort casino.
To view the presentation click the link above.
Additional slides were added for the 5/5/2012 Open House:
Project First Light Open House 5/5/2012

Testimony of Cedric Cromwell

Wuneekeesuq Neetopak. Good day my friends. I want to thank Chairman Panagiotakos and members of the committee for allowing me to submit this testimony. I particularly want to praise the Senate for its thoughtful approach to expanded gaming. The process of consideration that has led to this draft bill has been open, transparent and respectful of all sides. Most importantly it has been focused on what is most important – namely, expanded economic development in the Commonwealth.

As Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, I want to express my strong support for the Senate’s draft gaming legislation in particular, and the Commonwealth’s efforts to expand casino gaming in general.

As you know, the Tribe has a proposal to develop a destination resort casino in Fall River. Before I outline some of the specifics of our proposal, I would like to offer a bit of background on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, since there has been some confusion about various tribes.

I am a direct descendant of Osamequin, Chief Yellow Feather, great Massasoit of the Wampanoag Nation, whose image appears on the seal of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Indeed, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, known as the People of the First Light, has inhabited Massachusetts for more than 12,000 years. Our ancestors greeted explorers from Europe, and assisted the Pilgrims to survive their first harsh winters here. We treated European settlers with respect and human dignity and expected the same in return.

Unfortunately, the romanticized stories of that period do not tell the whole truth about the effect European settlement had on the tribe. For starters, European settlers brought with them foreign diseases that decimated our population. What’s worse, in the years after 1620 our land was stripped away from us while a series of governments – colonial, state, and federal – presided over attempts to not only take our land, but remove any trace of us from this part of the country.

That legacy was underscored for me recently, when U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited Cape Cod to see firsthand the sites where our ancient ancestors first greeted the rising sun. The pristine beaches, once a sacred place for our tribal members, are now dominated by million dollar vacation homes and exclusive country clubs.

I will not cite the long history of injustice that was wrought on our people as the result of European colonization and expansion. But I mention it only to emphasize the strong determination and perseverance that it took for our people to remain in our homeland and maintain a strong tribal community, even as we were surrounded by increasing development.

Despite this legacy, the people of my tribe are loyal citizens of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. But they are also citizens of a sovereign tribal nation.

In 2007, after a 30 year application process, and having painstakingly documented our tribal history, the Federal Government, through the U.S. Department of the Interior recognized the Mashpee Wampanoag as one of only two federally recognized Indian tribes in Massachusetts. The effect of the 2007 decision was not that the Tribe was “created” but rather that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe exists today as a tribe and has existed as such time immemorial.

Despite this recognition, when I was elected Tribal Chairman in 2009, we were a tribe without a reservation and with little hope of fostering economic growth to provide governmental services to our members and expand the quality of life for our people.

Today, many members of our tribe are unable to find housing within our own ancestral territory – one  of the most expensive markets in the country. Unemployment is high. We struggle with the many health issues that go along with high rates of poverty – heart disease, asthma, diabetes, cancer, teenage pregnancy, and substance abuse. Many of our tribal members rely on state assistance – through unemployment insurance, transitional assistance, Mass Health, and other programs – just to survive.

The only solution to these challenges is a long term strategy to create economic opportunity, and self-sufficiency for the tribe and to break the cycle of poverty for its people. The ability to develop and operate a resort style casino will not only provide much needed jobs for tribal members, but will also provide the resources necessary for the tribal government to take care of our own people who need assistance through various tribal programs, such as housing, healthcare and jobs-skills training.

In 2009, I ran for election as Chairman of my Tribe as part of a reform slate to rid our tribe of corruption and bring transparency and sound business practices to our tribal government. When the new leadership took office, we examined all of the decisions that the previous administration made, including the proposal to locate a casino in Middleboro. We conducted our appropriate due diligence and ultimately concluded that Fall River would be a better location for the Casino.

Today, the Tribe has reached an agreement with the City of Fall River to develop an integrated resort casino on the outskirts of Fall River. If the legislature approves expanded gaming, we intend to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the development which includes a casino, three hotels, convention facilities, a spa, high-end shopping and an indoor waterpark. It will be a destination for the whole family.

We have the strong support of the Mayor of Fall River and broad support in the community, as evidenced by a recent poll that concluded that nearly 2/3rds of Fall River residents support the development. The proposed site in Fall River is well-suited to development in that it is easily accessible from major routes, and has good infrastructure surrounding it. Most importantly however, Fall River is an area that is much in need of the economic stimulus that a resort casino can provide.

The Tribe also has the financial backing of Arkana Limited, a wholly-owned affiliate of Malaysian investment group Kien Huat. Kien Huat affiliates financed the startups of Foxwoods Resort and Casino in Connecticut in 1992 and the Seneca Niagara Casino in New York in 2002. They are a multi-billion dollar organization with vast experience developing and operating resort casinos.

The revenues generated by our proposed destination resort casino will provide for housing, education and health care for our people as well as the diversification of our economic development strategy so that we may better provide for our people.

For the city of Fall River, the casino will mean the creation of thousands of construction jobs immediately, and thousands of permanent jobs once the resort is up and operating. The jobs will be blue collar and white collar jobs in diverse industries including hospitality, gaming, food and beverage etc. They are the kinds of jobs that are so desperately needed by the residents of Fall River who are struggling to find work.

While on the subject of jobs, I know that much has been said about the likelihood that destination resort casinos could displace workers at the state’s current racetracks, and at the Raynham/Taunton track in particular. With that possibility in mind, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is prepared to offer employment to any worker at the Raynham/Taunton facility who loses their job because of changes in the state’s gaming laws.

In addition to employment opportunities, the development will also bring much needed revenue to the City of Fall River, to fund education, infrastructure improvements and crime prevention – all critical issues facing the City. Finally, for the Commonwealth, our proposal will mean economic development for a part of the state that is in desperate need.

Much has been written and said about the subject of Indian land in trust.  Let me briefly explain.  Currently, the Mashpee Wampanoag is the only federally recognized tribe in Massachusetts that does not have an initial reservation. The Aquinnah Tribe, the other federally recognized tribe, has been granted an initial reservation on Martha’s Vineyard, though they have waived the right to game on that reservation.

Presently, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has an application before the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take land into trust as an initial reservation. Once the land is placed into trust, our Tribe will have certain gaming rights as provided by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or IGRA. According to IGRA, federally recognized tribes “have the exclusive right to regulate gaming activity on Indian lands.”

As I am sure you also know, in February 2009, the Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar caused uncertainty as to the federal government’s ability to take land into trust for certain tribes. Since then, we, along with hundreds of other tribes from across the country, have been working with the Obama Administration and Congress to end this uncertainty. We are very encouraged by legislation introduced in both the US Senate and House to resolve this situation and potential opportunities to fix this administratively.

The bottom line is this – once we secure a federal land base, we will inevitably have sovereign rights to game on Indian land. But we would strongly prefer to work with the state now to adopt a comprehensive approach to statewide gaming that includes the Tribe, and allows us to negotiate a contract with the State now, and proceed to put shovels in the ground immediately.

We are very encouraged that both versions of the gaming bill currently pending include specific recognition of the special rights we have because we are a federally recognized tribe, and we were very pleased that the Senate bill included provisions related to our proposal in Fall River.

I am also pleased to have the support of Senator Menard who has been a strong leader not only on this issue, but on all the issues affecting the Tribe and its people. Finally, I want to express how excited we are to be working with Mayor Will Flanagan. Mayor Flanagan is committed to charting a course for economic growth in Fall River that will bring real relief sooner rather than later. He’s in a rush to get his people back to work, and so are we. With the support of our financial backers, we stand ready to put shovels in the ground as soon possible.

We look forward to working with the Commonwealth as it considers expanded gaming and as we move forward with our project. It will be a great project for the Tribe, a great project for Fall River, and a great project for the Commonwealth.

On behalf of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, I thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony, and look forward to a close working relationship moving forward.

Feinstein’s ‘Carcieri fix’ would ‘devastate’ trust land for gaming