Greetings Tribal Family,
It’s been almost two years since our land was taken into trust. However, our work to forever protect our ancestral homeland and our way of life continues. It continues as we work with the Department of Interior (DOI) to further define our existence as a strong, vibrant tribe with historic ties that date back to the first Europeans that made this land their home too. It continues as we appeal a case that has challenged the DOI’s ability to hold our land in trust under category 2. It continues as we explore other alternatives to protect our land.
I’m confident that we’ll be successful in our bid to secure our land in trust. We have a strong history that dates back well beyond 1934. It’s a fact that cannot be changed and why I’m confident we will be on the right side of history when everything is said and done. There’s no questions that we’ve got a lot of work to get through over the next few months, but we’ve got a great team that’s willing to work right by my side grinding the midnight oil to ensure the Department of Interior receives the supplemental material they’ve requested.
While I’m confident that we’ll be successful in this fight, it’s this continuous struggle and the impact it’s having on our community that concerns me right now. I know how much anxiety this process can cause and how it can weigh on each and every tribal citizen. I know that we take it personally each time a new group or legal definition questions our status. It hurts. The seemingly endless list of obstacles and moving goals can be exhausting. I worry about you, my tribal family, and how the anxiety is affecting us as whole.
I’m worried that the anxiety we all carry inside of us will have a very real impact on our community for years to come…long after these legal appeals and document submissions are completed. It’s why I urge you to talk with our traditional leaders about any anxiety you hold onto and try to remember that our culture and faith is something that can never be taken – we were Wampanoag yesterday, we’re Wampanoag today and we’ll be Wampanoag tomorrow.
Many tribal members have talked to me about how this process and the uncertainty has weighed on them. I feel it too. However, we should all know that our future remains bright.
Let’s remember that we’ve got an amazing group of young men and women that will ensure our Tribal Nation continues to thrive and grow for generations to come. In fact, as I sit at my desk writing this month’s column I can hear our tribal youth at summer Turtle Camp and Preserve Our Homeland Camp learning our culture and language and developing a strong identity. It’s a beautiful sound and I’m so grateful that the Creator has blessed us with such amazing children. These kids are bright, energetic and proof that Mashpee will Shine.