Land-into-Trust Meeting Tonight at 5 PM

Dear Tribal Family,

The time we have all been waiting for is here.   We have just received a call from the U.S. Department of Interior that they have made a decision on our Land-Into-Trust application.

I urge every Tribal citizen to come to the Community & Government Center today, Friday, September 18, 2015 at 5:00 PM to get an update on the status of our application.

We have never had this chance before, so I urge you to take advantage of it.

This road to establish sovereign territory in Mashpee and Taunton has been a long one.  But we now have a decision.

It’s impossible for me to overstate the significance of this time in our tribe’s history.  I look forward to seeing you.

Chairman Cedric Cromwell

Brian and Sassamin Weeden, elected as Male and Female Co-Presidents of United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY)

Well-known among active tribe members is that we have a group of outstand- ing young people coming of age right before our very eyes.

But, I can barely contain the pride and joy I feel now that the rest of Indian Country has also begun to take notice.

As you may have heard through the grapevine or maybe saw on social media, Brian Weeden, Sassamin Weeden, and Ke- turah Peters have established themselves as national youth leaders.

Brian and Sassamin were elected as Male and Female Co-Chairs of United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) at the native youth organization’s mid-year conference in Washington, D.C. last month.

Since UNITY was founded in 1976, the election of Brian and Sassamin marks the first time that a brother and sister duo were chosen by their peers to serve at the top level of the national network organization whose mission is to promote the personal development, citizenship, and leadership of Native American youth.

Keturah, meanwhile, was elected to serve as the UNITY Northeast Representative. All three are definitely represent- ing Mashpee well, as they joined 1,000 other Native youth from 230 different tribes across the nation for another first: the first ever White House Tribal Youth Gathering held at the Renaissance Washington in downtown D.C.

The four-day event was the kick-off of President Obama’s Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) initiative, which he called for back in April as a way to help foster a movement committed to improving the lives of Native youth across Indian Country.

What a thrill it was to hear the First Lady, Michelle Obama, talk about how “Gen-I isn’t just a summit. This isn’t just a program. Gen-I is a movement, you understand? It’s about tribal youth from across this continent embracing your heritage, telling your stories, and teaching people about your central role in our history and our future,” Mrs. Obama said.

If you know Brian, Sassamin and Keturah like I do then you know each of them are great examples of native youth who have embraced our heritage, tell our stories and teach people about the central role the Wampanoag people have played in this country’s history.

Yet, even as the history of in- digenous people everywhere must be acknowledged and shared in order to understand how we got to the present moment, it isn’t the end of the story. In fact, it is only the beginning – the foundation from which we can work together to face the difficult challenges impacting our youth in the present, from the prevalence of suicide to other self-destructive behaviors. And, as we are all painfully aware, we are not immune from the pitfalls that can ensnare even the best of us.

But neither are we isolated or alone. We face common problems in Indian Country to which we need common (and creative) solutions.

Now, I know it’s a cliché to say the youth are the future. But, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before doesn’t make it any less true.

Not only Brian, Sassamin and Keturah, but with so many of our youth stepping up in many different ways – succeeding in school, engaged in the community – we should all feel confident that the future of our Tribe will be in very capable hands.

I give praise to our Almighty Creator for giving us these special young people. Please join me in encouraging our youth to dream big, reach far, and to become leaders in every walk of life.

Kutâputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

Cape Cod Times Article Today

Dear Tribal Community,

Today, the Cape Cod Times runs a feature by George Brennan detailing why our Tribe qualifies to have land taken into trust on our behalf.

Since our application for land in trust is still under review, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific details of our submission. However, I can say that the information we have presented to the Department of Interior is compelling, and supports the fact that our people have inhabited present-day Southeastern Massachusetts (and beyond), including the Taunton area, for thousands of years. In addition, it proves that our tribe satisfies all requirements for our land to be taken into trust.

Thank you to the Tribal members and members of our legal team who have worked so hard on this submission.

Please read the entire Cape Cod Times article here.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Exceptional news – aboriginal fishing rights

Dear Tribal Community,

 I want to share some exceptional news with you regarding Tribal member and Natural Resources Commission member David Greene’s lawsuit regarding his aboriginal fishing rights. This case is of great importance to each and every Tribal member.

On Friday, January 18, 2013, Tribal member David Greene received an extremely favorable ruling from the Plymouth Superior Court in his ongoing lawsuit concerning an incident in which his aboriginal fishing rights were denied by local officials in the Town of Mattapoisett. As you may recall, Dave was gathering quahogs for dinner on October 11, 2010, in Mattapoisett, when he was confronted and assaulted by then-deputy shellfish warden Kenneth Pacheco. In his complaint, Dave named the Town of Mattapoisett and Pacheco as defendants. The lawsuit seeks both damages from Pacheco and the Town and asks the Court to make a declaration of Dave’s rights to fish in Mattapoisett without regulation or interference from local officials.

The defendants brought two motions seeking to dismiss most of Greene’s claims against Pacheco and all of the claims against Mattapoisett on the grounds that they were legally insufficient. The defendants brought a third motion asking the court to require the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to become parties to Greene’s lawsuit or to dismiss the case. In his January 18, 2013 decision, Superior Court Judge Richard Chin denied all three motions in a 35-page written opinion.       

Rejecting the defendants’ argument that Greene, as an individual Tribal member, cannot enforce the Tribe’s communal fishing rights, Judge Chin acknowledged that Greene has a “personal right to exercise the Tribe’s shellfishing rights” and, therefore, can vindicate his rights as a Tribal member on his own and that he can maintain his civil-rights claim against Pacheco based on the alleged violation of those rights.

Pacheco had also argued to the court that he should be immune from suit on the civil-rights claim because Dave’s rights to shellfish in Mattapoisett were not “clearly established” at the time of the incident. Judge Chin disagreed, however, ruling that the issue of whether Dave’s shellfishing rights were clearly established in October 2010 should be addressed at a later stage in the litigation, and also noting that Dave’s civil-rights claim against Pacheco is based as well on constitutional rights including equal protection of the law (differential treatment based upon national origin), freedom from the unreasonable seizure of property (Dave’s catch and equipment), and protection against the unreasonable restriction of freedom of movement (Pacheco’s detention of Dave on the beach in Mattapoisett).

Judge Chin also rejected Pacheco’s argument that the claim for emotional distress should be dismissed as legally insufficient. He ruled that, based upon the allegations of the complaint, “a jury could conclude that [Pacheco’s] conduct, which included disregard of Greene’s tribal rights, taunting based on national origin, humiliation in front of his wife and friend, and threats of violence and arrest, rose beyond mere insults and indignities and was extreme and outrageous.”

The Town of Mattapoisett moved to dismiss all of Dave’s claims against the Town, including for negligence in supervising Pacheco, under the requirements of the state statute providing for claims against public authorities and certain immunities provided by that statute. Judge Chin rejected all of the Town’s arguments and ruled that Dave’s claims against the Town will proceed.

Finally, Judge Chin rejected the defendants’ effort to require the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to become parties to David Greene’s lawsuit. Judge Chin, among other things, observed that the “Tribe’s interest in establishing that its treaty-based shellfishing rights are not subject to regulation by the Town is aligned with Greene’s position” and that the defendants failed to show that the Tribe’s “absence from this lawsuit will as a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect its interests.”

Judge Chin’s ruling means that all of Dave’s claims against Pacheco and the Town of Mattapoisett will proceed.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and our individual members have never ceded our original rights to fish as we have done since time immemorial. The Tribe will take all steps necessary to stop any and all unlawful effort to interfere with our rights and the rights of Tribal members.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Weekend Events

Dear Tribal Community,

The calendar is jam-packed with Tribal events this weekend and I hope you and your family can join us. Please see details for each of the events below.
See you this weekend!
Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

 

Health Clinic One Year Anniversary Open House and Celebration

Saturday, January 26, 2013, 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
483 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee
Open to the public

2013 Meet the Candidates Forum
Saturday January 26, 2013, 5:30pm to 8:30pm
Mashpee High School Auditorium
500 Old Barnstable Road, Mashpee, MA
For Tribal Members Only

Intertribal Potluck Social
Sunday, January 27th, 2013, 2:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Camp Burgess, 75 Stowe Road, Sandwich, MA
All are welcome

Inauguration Day and Martin Luther King Day

Dear Tribal Community,

Listening to President Barack Obama deliver his second inaugural address today, I was inspired and in awe of how far we have come and mindful of how far we have yet to go. Today, President Obama acknowledged the enormous legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday we celebrate today as well.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. understood clearly that the fight for civil rights in the United States of America was not just about those of African descent, but all people of color, including Native Americans. In 1963, Dr. King wrote:

Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, blood flowed in battles of racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter of national policy to wipe its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experience into a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorse for this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it.

 

Our fight for true equality and our sovereign rights continues today. President Obama has already shown himself to be a friend of Indian Country, and I believe that he is committed to the ideals of tribal sovereignty and self determination. I thank the Creator that President Obama was reelected, and pray that in these next four years, he continues to be guided by Dr. King’s teachings of equality and freedom for all.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Exciting News on Land In Trust

Dear Tribal Community,

We have received exciting news: as I announced at today’s General Membership Meeting, federal officials have informed the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that our land in trust application is proceeding rapidly.

This is another critical step forward for our proposed destination resort casino, which will create thousands of jobs and widespread economic opportunities for our Tribe and our neighbors in southeastern Massachusetts.

The December 31 letter was sent to update us on the status of our application for land in Mashpee and Taunton to be placed in trust. The Washburn letter states that Interior has completed an initial review and is moving forward in processing the application according to the initial reservation exception.

Assistant Secretary Washburn writes, “After an initial review of the Tribe’s application and other applicable documents in the record, we will be directing the Eastern Regional Director to begin processing the Tribe’s application pursuant to this [initial reservation] exception. The Office of Indian Gaming will complete its final analysis of the applicability of the initial reservation exception in January 2013.” Washburn also stated the BIA expects to complete in early 2013 its analysis of the Secretary’s authority to acquire land in trust for the Tribe in light of the Supreme Court’s 2009 Carcieri v. Salazar decision.

The schedule outlined by Assistant Secretary Washburn means that our land in trust application is a priority. We appreciate this very strong commitment from the Obama Administration and the active support of Governor Patrick and our congressional delegation.

This progress would have been impossible without the unwavering confidence and support of our Tribal members and Tribal Council to push forward and fight for our right to sovereign land.

It is important to remember that land in trust isn’t just about gaming. We’re even more excited about what finally having a reservation will mean for our tribe. A reservation is absolutely critical to our ability to operate as a tribal government, to provide services to our people like housing, health care and education, and to maintain our history and culture in our ancestral homeland.

The initial reservation exception is found in Section 20 of the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act. It is one of the few exceptions to a prohibition on gaming on lands taken into trust after October 17, 1988, and is expressly intended for newly recognized Indian tribes, such as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, that do not have a reservation.

This is exciting news for our Tribe and our efforts to acquire trust lands, provide the very best in services to our people, and to create jobs, economic development and direct financial support for tribal members.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Happy New Year!

Dear Tribal Community,

Happy New Year!

May the Creator bring you and your family health, happiness and prosperity in 2013.

These are exciting times for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and I look forward to our Tribal Nation continuing to achieve great things in the New Year. Let’s continue to push forward as one Tribal family toward a brighter future for us all.
Just like our ancestors before us, we will persevere against all odds and raise our Tribal Nation to the highest of all highs, to shine bright like the sun and soar high like the eagle with “Wuneeshkeety” Good Medicine!

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

Merry Christmas 2012

Dear Tribal Community,

Merry Christmas!

I hope that this Christmas Eve message finds you warm, safe, and enjoying the holiday with family and friends. I send my best wishes to you for good health, happiness and togetherness on this blessed day.

The Mashpee Wampanoag people have always prioritized family and the collective good, and I am so happy to see that spirit on display during this Christmas season. Thank you to all who have helped make this holiday brighter for those who are in need, those who are hurting physically or spiritually, and those who need an extra helping hand. Thank you for helping provide gifts for Tribal children, support for Tribal families, and assistance and kindness to our Tribal Elders. Thank you to our traditional leaders for the important work you do every day to benefit our people and remind us to maintain, celebrate, and pass on our Wampanoag values in this modern world.

I am proud every day of the goodness that our Tribal family displays, and I am honored every day to serve as your Chairman. Thank you for the trust you have placed in me, the support you have shown, and the guidance you have given to me. It is truly one of the greatest gifts of my life to lead the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe as Chairman.

I pray that the Creator continues to watch over us and guide us. I pray that those who have passed on to the spirit world have been relieved of their pain, and know that we love and honor them and continue to hold them in our hearts.

May your Christmas be full of love, family and togetherness.

Kutaputunumuw;

Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)