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.