“It’s Official – Tribal Lands Are Placed Into Trust!”

Dear Tribal Family,

It’s official! Our land in Mashpee and Taunton has now been acquired by the federal government and placed in trust. It is protected for our people now and for future generations!

As you know, on September 18, 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior announced its decision to approve our land-in-trust application, which included approximately 321 acres of land in Mashpee and Taunton.

This year’s Thanksgiving will have a much different meaning for our Tribe. It will be historic. We are on a different journey now. Instead of losing more land and access each year, we are changing course and headed in a different direction. We are coming full circle.

This new beginning for our Tribe also marks an important milestone in American history and Indian Country, reversing centuries of injustice and encroachment on Wampanoag lands that began in the years after the first Thanksgiving.

We rejoiced in September when the Department of Interior announced its approval of our land-in-trust application. Today, however, the Federal Government has delivered on its promise. We now have a land base from which we can sustain our cultural traditions, develop a thriving tribal economy, and serve the needs of our people as we see fit.

Join me as we pay homage to our Ancestors, Beloved Tribal Elders, Tribal and Spiritual Leaders, Tribal Citizens as well as Future Generations!

Congratulations!

 

Mashpee maps its future

Posted Aug. 11, 2015 at 2:01 AM

Mashpee has a lot of land on its hands.

The town has, over the years, taken possession of more than 500 acres because the owners failed to pay property taxes or chose to walk away from their land. The property in question is a mixture of valuable and less-valuable parcels.

Selectmen have periodically gone to voters asking permission to sell specific lots, but have had mixed results. That is exactly why the board created a committee to consider and categorize the land. Now that group has put forth a report that will undoubtedly be parsed and picked apart, but which will at least serve as a solid starting point for moving forward.

Over the years, the Board of Selectmen has tried to deal with the land on a parcel-by-parcel basis. The challenge with this is that the board must seek approval from town meeting every time it wants to change the use of, or sell, any parcel. This is a cumbersome and sometimes challenging process that can often fall apart at town meeting.

In addition to managing the properties, the town must also contend with the fact that as long as this land remains on the town books, it does not generate tax revenue, which could be considerable, given that the total assessed value of the lots comes in at more than $26 million. Then there is the prospect of generating a bit of immediate cash for the town by selling the land for development.

Fortunately, it appears as though Mashpee selectmen took the approach that a diversity of opinion was wiser than a rubber stamp committee. Reports indicate that there were a wide variety of viewpoints on the committee, with at least one member wanting to sell off all the land and another hoping the town would keep all the land for conservation. Instead of moving to either extreme, the group placed each parcel into one of six categories based on usage, including affordable housing, conservation, wastewater mitigation, park, sale, and reserve, meaning that the town would hold onto it for now.

If approved by voters, the group’s proposal would ensure that nearly half the land remains in reserve, either because there is no clear use for it right now or because there are continuing title issues. The committee also proposed that an additional 183 acres be set aside for conservation. In the end, only about five-and-a-half acres, with an assessed value of $1.175 million, were recommended for sale. The remaining acreage will be divided among the other uses, including just over 16 acres for affordable housing.

Mashpee has learned well from the ghosts of past property challenges. Town officials saw what had not worked and, instead of continuing to bang their collective heads against the same wall, came up with a public input approach that has reached a sensible consensus. That process continues; the committee held one public hearing in July, and has slated another for Aug. 25. This allows for substantial input from an even wider constituency, and may help when it comes time for town meeting to weigh in on the issue.

As with any discussion involving the disbursement of public property, there will likely be some spirited debate about individual parcels. Homeowners and conservationists may make arguments about this lot or that lot, but the committee has tackled a massive task with careful consideration and provided not only a starting point for the people of Mashpee, but a land management template that other towns across Cape Cod would do well to consider.

http://www.capecodtimes.com/article/20150811/OPINION/150819972/101019

IMPORTANT- Mashpee Town Meeting Tonight 7-15-15

Dear Tribal Members,

There is an important public forum tonight at Mashpee Town Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. and another one next month that you need to know about.

The town of Mashpee is looking to designate 500 acres of town-owned land – land that once belonged to our people – for various uses.

The town acquired these lands years ago through non-payment of taxes. We strongly encourage tribal members to attend tonight’s forum to learn more about the town’s plans and to voice to any concerns you may have.

These town sponsored public forums are being held ahead of the October Town Meeting to decide what to do with this land. The town is considering a Town Meeting article that specifically identifies 283 parcels that make up approximately 517 acres, valued at $27 million.

Selectmen Andrew Gottlieb and other town officials have been working to put a proposal together on how the land should be used. The land is mostly undeveloped now and Selectmen Gottlieb said the town’s plan at the moment is to designate most of the parcels for conservation. Other parcels they are thinking about using for other purposes such as affordable housing, wastewater treatment, recreation and parks, and possibly some for sale.

Similar plans in the past have failed because parcels were brought before Town Meeting voters on an individual basis instead of one “master list,” according to Mashpee Selectmen Gottlieb, who briefed the Tribal Council at a special meeting last night.

A map of the project is up on the town’s website for viewing with a color-coded key identifying the proposed uses. There you will find that the proposed plan includes: a 65-acre parcel on the eastern section of Falmouth Road that could be reserved for town playing fields, affordable housing, conservation and a sewer pump on Samson’s Mill Road; 53 acres that includes the town landfill and transfer station that could include a wastewater treatment plant and effluent discharge area; 28 acres off of Red Brook Road with sections reserved for open space and for a waste treatment plant east of the fire station with a possible discharge area for wastewater as well.

Affordable housing is being considered for the western section of Mashpee along Falmouth Road and on Old Barnstable Road near the Quashnet Valley Country Club. Individual parcels for open space are proposed all over the town including plots around Santuit Pond, off Great Neck Road North, off Route 130, parcels between Mashpee-Wakeby Pond and Peters Pond, and near Winslow Farms.

There are other parcels that would be reserved for sewer pumps near Joint Base Cape Cod, Santuit Pond, Mashpee Neck, Great Neck Road South and other areas.

The forum tonight will be held at Town Hall from 6 to 9 p.m. A second forum will be held on August 25th.

The forums will include an explanation of the process used to determine the plan, an explanation of the project categories, and the process moving forward. Residents will also have an opportunity to review maps of the parcels.

Board of Selectmen Chairman John Cahalane has said the forums are an opportunity for residents to understand the reasons behind the project and to make sure there are no surprises or confusion at the October Town Meeting, as there have been in the past.

Even if it’s only to learn more about this, please be there tonight to show the Town that we, as Tribe members, have a deep and abiding interest in how land that once belonged to our people will be used in the future.

Kutâputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell

Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

Amidst the heartache, Our Tribe’s Strong Kinship Ties Have the Power to Transform Mourning into Morning

Dear Tribal Family,

The month of May turned out to be a difficult time for many of us. Even as the beauty and renewal of spring shone its face – even as the herring began their annual run – it wasn’t all sweetness and light. Amy Booth Hamblin (Hendricks), Dwight A. Peters, and my beloved mother and Tribal Elder Constance Myrna (Tobey) Cromwell went on to the Grande Lodge in the Sky. And while each of their spirits are now with The Creator, those of us who were left behind are not without a sense of grievous loss.

Of course, I cannot speak for the immediate families of Amy and Dwight. But, as for me, I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to all those who offered their love, support and Good Medicine during such a difficult time.

Amidst the heartache, however, I am always blown away by how our Tribe’s strong kinship ties have the power to transform mourning into morning. The sacred songs, sage, prayers and drumming embody an ancient appreciation for the circle of life, and, I believe, is the secret to our resilience.

It is a blessing that even in death, there is still beauty – and strength – among our people. The way we come together to celebrate the lives of those of us who pass on, without regard to circumstance or status, carries the implicit message that each and every Wampanoag life matters.

To behold and partake in that is a constant source of healing and hope.

***

We draw upon the everlasting energy of our ancestors (as well as the recently deceased) to walk in their footsteps that we may have the fortitude to face our tomorrows.

It is with that spirit I ask you to join me in welcoming new leaders into our tribal government:

Our new Tribal Administrator David ThunderEagle; our new Tribal Supreme Court Justice Terri Yellowhammer; our new Youth Director, Tracy Kelley; our new Assistant Education Director, Scott Shepherd; our new Indian Education Coordinator, Cameron Greendeer; our new Tribal Outreach worker, Ann Marie Askew; our new Emergency Preparedness Planner, Nelson Andrews Jr.; our new Clerk, Eileen Miranda; as well as our new Gaming Authority member, Daniel Nuey.

 

Kutâputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell

Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

2015 Proposed Budget has arrived at homes…Please reveiw

Dear Tribal Family,

You’ve got mail. This week we sent out the Tribal Council’s proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget for your review. We will hold a budget information session from 2- 5 p.m. on Feb. 15 at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Community & Government Center. Then, at our General Membership meeting on March 8, an up-or-down vote will be held.

With 2014 in the rear view mirror, we are now passing through a critical intersection on the road to economic self-sufficiency and the budget is a big part of that.

It’s also important to note that because we don’t impose taxes on individual tribal citizens, our tribal government does not run on taxpayer dollars, as other governments rely on to provide services to its citizens. Instead, we have access to a limited amount of grant funding, federal aid, and investor contributions.

Of course, a budget is not simply an accounting statement filled with numbers. A budget, first and foremost, is a statement of priorities. It’s a document that lays out how limited resources get divvied up in the face of diverse needs in way that gives us the biggest bang for our buck.

It’s not just about the dollars. It’s also about common sense. So let me say right off the bat: the proposed budget is balanced and does not project to spend more than we bring in.

I believe our proposed $16.6 million budget (which includes secured funds as well as $4 million in anticipated in additional revenues) serves as a bridge to a more prosperous future. In preparation for the upcoming vote, I’d like to give you an overview of what’s in it – the good and the challenging.

First, the challenging: As with any budget – whether you’re talking about a government or a private business – salaries are always the biggest line item. And that’s because governments (or businesses) are still run by people who need to make a living, and who provide the services we all rely upon.

Of the $16.6 million in this year’s proposed budget, $4.7 million is to pay the salaries of the 79 people who keep our government running, 92 percent of whom are tribe members. There will always be those who question the salaries of employees. Yet, before a judgment can be made about what’s an appropriate salary, one overarching principle must be taken into account: competitive wages that attract highly capable professionals with particular skill-sets.

This budget does not propose to extend 401K, retirement or pension benefits to tribal employees, which is the norm in the labor market outside of our growing nation. The truth is: the salaries of tribal employees and the $1.5 million in additional health insurance benefits are in line with similar jobs outside of the tribe.

But that’s not all: this year’s budget proposes to eliminate cost-of-living-adjustments for the upcoming year. By doing that, we can save $200,000 and put that money toward our Tribal Native Scholars program, which lost the grant that previously funded that program. That’s not something we take lightly. But, in the face of limited resources, I believe it’s a difficult choice justified by the priority we place on investing in those pursuing a degree in higher education.

Now, a few words about the good in this budget.

I think we can all agree that our Community & Government Center is not only the seat of our government but the heart of our community – a place where we can come together as a people to be about our business. No doubt, there are costs associated with maintaining this magnificent building. That’s why this year’s budget proposes $1.5 million to pay for building costs, which not only includes maintenance and utilities but also the $500,000 interest on the loan we got to finance the construction.

We are also proposing to spend $856,000 in program supplies, which covers materials needed for tribal initiatives such as equipment for our shellfish farm and the $313,000 it cost to put in place paved infrastructure at the future site of our Tribal Housing Development on Meetinghouse Road.

In terms of more direct spending serving tribal members, we are proposing $800,000 to cover client expenses, the biggest portion of which ($270,000) will directly benefit tribal members in need of housing assistance. Another $250,000 would fund education scholarships and $227,000 would fund our hardship emergency services, which helps financially struggling tribe members pay utility bills or keep their families afloat amid unexpected financial catastrophe.

One of the things I’m most proud of in this budget proposal are the efficiencies and savings we’ve found that will allow us to spend $250,000 to place tribe members battling addiction into transitional sober homes.

Now, if we pull the lens back, the proposed budget for the upcoming year represents an increase of $1.8 million over last year’s budget of $14.8 million. What accounts for this increase is the federal requirement for us to establish a tribal gaming commission as well as the true costs of paying the bills at the Community & Government Center, which last year was based on an estimate.

We are proposing to spend $1.5 million on our Tribal Gaming Commission in anticipation of getting land into trust this year, which will trigger federally mandated hiring and licensing fees associated with building our First Light casino project in Taunton. This is money set-aside that will only be used when we break ground. Yes, it’s an added expense but a necessary one that reflects we are moving closer to our top priority: establishing sovereign tribal lands on which we can build a money-making engine that will ultimately drive us to economic self-sufficiency.

I am well-aware of the concerns over our gaming authority budget, the funds of which are separate from the money that funds our tribal government. I am also aware there has been misinformation circulated about the finances needed to bring this project to fruition. At this point, it should be self-evident what it costs to build a $500 million resort destination casino, which is what the state Gaming Commission requires our competitors to spend. If we are going to compete with the big players, we must invest on the same level, otherwise it would be like trying to compete with Super Stop & Shop by building a tiny convenience store.

While the road to complete economic independence may be filled with potholes, traffic, and other temporary detours, this budget keeps us cruising forward on the freeway to our future. It literally puts our money where our mouths and hearts are – a future financed, not by outside investors or government grants, but one that is paved and paid for by the bounty of our own prosperity.

Kutaputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell

Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

Winter Storm Update

Dear Tribal Community,

With a major winter storm expected to affect the majority of our Tribal citizens over the next few days, please stay safe and take precautions to ensure safety throughout the duration and aftermath of the storm.

Tribal offices will close early today at 11:30 am and all Tribal meetings have been postponed so that tribal citizens and employees can stay off the road. This includes the Tribal Election that was scheduled for Sunday, February 10th. Please see the Election Committee’s notice here.

Please check in on family members and neighbors – especially Elders – if you are able to safely do so.

Our Tribal government has been working hard to communicate with Elders, prepare Tribal resources in case of an emergency, stay in touch with state and local emergency officials, and monitor conditions.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has provided the following information about the storm and resources in case of an emergency situation:

A significant snowstorm/blizzard is forecasted to impact Massachusetts beginning on Friday February 8th, lasting into Saturday February 9th. Snowfall across much of Massachusetts is expected to be approximately 1-2 feet with locally higher amounts. In addition to snowfall, strong damaging hurricane force winds (gusts up to 80 mph along the coast, up to 50 mph within the Rte 95 corridor, and up to 40 mph further inland) are expected which could lead to widespread power outages. In addition, moderate to major coastal flooding is anticipated along much of the coastline during the Friday evening and Saturday morning high tides.

Travel may become nearly impossible with blowing/drifting snow and near zero visibility during the height of the storm (Friday afternoon into Saturday morning). Motorists are asked to stay off the roads if they can during the storm to allow snow plows to clear the roads.

Get MEMA Winter Weather tips here.

MEMA encourages smartphone users to download the free ping4alerts! app. This app is available free of charge for iPhone and Android phones and receives severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA based on the user’s location. Learn more at http://www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

Stay safe, and may the Creator cover you.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

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.

Kutaputunumuw;

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 ytobey@mwtribe.com; or David Marland, Training Coordinator at UA Local #51, at 401.943.7301.