Greetings Tribal Family,
We’ve been through it all. Over 40 years ago we started our formal petition for Federal Recognition. Long before there was even a thought of Indian Gaming. We did it for the very simple reason that we wanted to protect this land that we call our home, preserve our heritage and culture and continue to exercise our aboriginal rights to hunt and fish responsibly on these lands. Since then we’ve watched our homeland become overcrowded with construction as we continued our fight decade after decade to recapture our ability to protect this land with land in trust.
It’s been a drawn out battle that’s gone on longer than our elders and ancestors who delivered those papers to Washington DC back in the 1970s could have imagined. It’s been an exhaustive process with a few ups and many downs that have tested our resolve and our resources. This latest setback challenging our land in trust has once again stretched our resources out and forced us to make some hard choices. But let me be very clear, our fight for this land and our way of life is not something that we will ever compromise or give up fighting for.
What we have decided to do is look for ways to trim our budget and become more creative and thoughtful with our operations. It’s our goal to find cost savings where ever appropriate and to do so with as little impact to the programs and services that are so vital to the education of our youth, the structure of our growing families and the health of our elders.
To accomplish this, I appointed several Tribal members to a Sustainability Working Group back in August to review each department, program and budget line by line to find savings. Since then, this dedicated group has been pouring through our income and expenses and will be providing Tribal Council with a list of recommendations. Again, we’re doing all this while maintaining our commitment to protect our land in trust and minimize any disruption to the programs and services we all rely on.
Initial feedback that I’ve received from the Sustainability Working Group has been surprisingly positive. They’ve been able to find additional grant funds that were not being utilized to the best of their ability and opportunities to streamline our operations. It’s a process we should have conducted sooner and will certainly look to implement every few years going forward. It’s a healthy process for a government to review its operations on a regular basis.
With all that said, there’s no question that these are challenging times. But let me remind you that we are a strong, creative and smart people that have persevered through far more difficult circumstances. I’m confident that we will succeed in the end. We will have a prosperous future; rich with culture and economic development opportunities, including our world-class destination resort casino First Light.
I also ask you, the citizens of our great Tribe, what can you do to help? Are there areas where you can donate your time, treasure or talent back to your people? We are open to any and all ideas that you may have for improving the work we do within our community and in our Community and Government Center. We are stronger together and together there is nothing that we cannot achieve… we are Wampanoag Strong.