Important Update from Chairman Cromwell: Judge Young Clarifies Decision – We Will Seek Revised Record-Of-Decision

DEAR TRIBAL FAMILY,

TODAY WE ARE ENCOURAGED BY FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT JUDGE WILLIAM YOUNG’S DECISION THAT CLARIFIES HIS INITIAL RULING BACK ON JULY 28, REGARDING OUR TRIBAL LAND STATUS. THE RULING, IN EFFECT NOW PROVIDES US A LEGAL PATH FORWARD.

WHILE JUDGE YOUNG TECHNICALLY DENIED THE UNITED STATES’ MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION,  HE GAVE THE UNITED STATES THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IT ASKED FOR ON OUR BEHALF, AS IT SOUGHT CLARIFICATION OF HIS INITIAL RULING.

JUDGE YOUNG HAS MADE CLEAR THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR IS NOW FREE AND FULLY ABLE TO CONSIDER WHETHER THE TRIBE MEETS THE CRITERIA FOR RE-ESTABLISHING RESERVATION LAND UNDER THE FIRST PART OF THE STATUTE THAT GIVES THE UNITED STATES AUTHORITY TO TAKE LAND INTO TRUST FOR INDIAN TRIBES UNDER “FEDERAL JURISDICTION” IN 1934. THAT IS SOMETHING WE ARE CONFIDENT OUR STRONG HISTORY WILL DEMONSTRATE.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS THE UNITED STATES HAS AN OPPORTUNITY HERE TO FURTHER ADDRESS OUR REQUEST TO HAVE OUR LAND HELD IN TRUST, AND WE EXPECT ANY SETBACK CAUSED BY THE COURT’S INITIAL DECISION ON JULY 28, WILL BE TEMPORARY.

IN ADDITION TO APPEALING JUDGE YOUNG’S DECISION ON PART OF THE LAW, WE INTEND TO FILE A FORMAL REQUEST WITH THE INTERIOR DEPARTMENT TO REVISE AND UPDATE OUR LAND-IN-TRUST APPLICATION GIVEN THE DECISION WE RECEIVED TODAY.

IT’S UNFORTUNATE THAT A SMALL GROUP OF EAST TAUNTON RESIDENTS HAVE TRIED TO BOG US DOWN IN LEGAL TECHNICALITIES AND ATTEMPT TO THWART JUSTICE. HOWEVER, OUR FOUNDATION IS STRONG AND BUILT ON THE WISDOM AND FORTITUDE OF OUR ANCESTORS.  

AND, WITH JUDGE YOUNG’S RECENT APPROVAL OF OUR MOTION TO INTERVENE, WE WILL NOW PLAY A MORE DIRECT ROLE IN DEFENDING OUR ANCESTRAL HOMELANDS AND PROTECT THE SOVEREIGNTY OF OUR PEOPLE AND OUR NATION!

 Kutâputunumuw!

Important Update from Chairman Cromwell ~ TRIBE APPLAUDS JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MOTION ON MASHPEE LAND IN TRUST DECISION

Dear Tribal Family,

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 the U.S. Justice Department filed a partial “motion to reconsider” the ruling by Judge William Young on July 28.

As we know, Judge Young remanded the case back to the Department of Interior because, in his view, the Tribe could not have been under “federal jurisdiction” in 1934 because it was not “federally recognized” at that time.

The motion seeks to clarify why the judge ruled on an aspect of the IRA or Indian Reorganization Act that was not part of the Interior Department Record-Of-Decision, and why the judge’s ruling equated “federal jurisdiction” with “federal recognition.”

We respectfully but strongly disagree with Judge Young’s ruling. We are encouraged that in the matter of the Cowlitz Tribe decision, court ruled that there is indeed a distinction between “federal recognition” and “federal jurisdiction.” The appellate justices affirmed in that matter the Interior Department’s interpretation of the law.  There is indeed a very clear distinction between ‘federal jurisdiction’ and formal ‘federal recognition’ — a process that didn’t even exist at the time IRA was passed by Congress.

It’s re-assuring because we have always argued that our Land-In-Trust application qualifies under ‘federal jurisdiction’ as well as the fact that our people were indeed residing on a reservation before 1934.

This action, coupled with the Tribal Council’s decision to file a motion to intervene,  will serve to strengthen our case as we will have a more direct role in defending our lands, shoulder to shoulder with the U.S. Department of Interior.

Nobody can explain the importance of our ancestral homeland and its significance to our survival better than we can.  While those who are financing this suit, brought forth by the plaintiffs of East Taunton, are principally interested in protecting their casino interests, our goal is to protect the sovereignty of our people.

 Kutâputunumuw!

Important Update from Chairman Cromwell: Tribal Council Unanimously Votes to “Intervene” in Pending Case

Dear Tribal Family

As we progress in determining next steps as a result of the decision by the District Court on July 28, 2016 which ruled in favor of the plaintiffs (David Littlefield, et al., v United States Department of Interior, Civil Action No. 16-10184-WGY), I want to further update our Tribal Community of actions taken by the Tribal Council.

On Friday, August 12 the Tribal Council unanimously voted to approve “Intervention” in the case named above.

While the Tribe is not named in the matter, the court ruling did remand the Department’s Record of Decision to the Secretary of the Interior, and we feel now it is in our best interest to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Department of Interior as we move forward.

No one entity can speak of our history and significant spiritual ties to our Land better than we can. This action will allow us the ability to strengthen our voice in further land court proceedings whether district or appellate court levels, or both.

I want to applaud all of my fellow Tribal Councilors for unanimously and vigorously supporting this action which in effect carries the strong message from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation that We Are Still Here!

 Kutâputunumuw!

Monday, August 1, 2016 ~ Important Update from Chairman Cromwell regarding the Federal District Court ruling

Dear Tribal Family,

A further update on this important matter as of August 1, 2016.  Our land continues in trust and NO action has been taken otherwise.  I and the Tribal Council strive to keep our Tribal citizenry well-informed with accurate and timely information.  We will continue to do so throughout this process.

On Thursday, July 28th, we learned that U.S. District Court Judge William Young overseeing the litigation challenging the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to hold our land in trust ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

This lawsuit was led by attorneys hired by a rival casino developer from Chicago, Neil Bluhm. The plaintiffs are also associated with CERA, one of the foremost anti-Tribe groups in the country.

But, let me assure you that our legal team and Tribal Council is working overtime to address our next steps. We expect an appeal to be filed, as both parties agreed to before the court proceedings in federal district court in Boston where this case was heard.

Obviously, we are disappointed in the ruling, as it represents an attack on Indian sovereignty and an attempt to undermine our right to self-determination and self-reliance.

While our legal team and Tribal Council develops our strategy moving forward, let me tell you what this ruling does not mean. This ruling does not mean that we have lost our land. This ruling does not mean we have been ordered to stop moving forward with our First Light Resort & Casino.

I don’t need to tell you that our people have been challenged many times over the centuries. But I am comforted by the fact that we are still here, living on the land of our ancestors. At this time, we need to stand united as a Tribe. If we can do that, with the blessings of our Creator and our ancestors, I have no doubt we will prevail!

 Kutâputunumuw!

Important Update from Chairman Cromwell regarding the Federal District Court ruling

Dear Tribal Family,

As you have probably heard, we learned today, July 28, 2016, that U.S. District Court Judge William Young overseeing the litigation challenging the U.S. Department of Interior’s decision to hold our land in trust ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

This lawsuit was led by attorneys hired by a rival casino developer from Chicago, Neil Bluhm. The plaintiffs are also associated with CERA, one of the foremost anti-Tribe groups in the country.

But, let me assure you that our legal team and Tribal Council is working overtime to address our next steps. We expect an appeal to be filed, as both parties agreed to before the court proceedings in federal district court in Boston where this case was heard.

Obviously, we are disappointed in the ruling, as it represents an attack on Indian sovereignty and an attempt to undermine our right to self-determination and self-reliance.

While our legal team and Tribal Council develops our strategy moving forward, let me tell you what this ruling does not mean. This ruling does not mean that we have lost our land. This ruling does not mean we have been ordered to stop moving forward with our First Light Resort & Casino.

I don’t need to tell you that our people have been challenged many times over the centuries. But I am comforted by the fact that we are still here, living on the land of our ancestors. At this time, we need to stand united as a Tribe. If we can do that, with the blessings of our Creator and our ancestors, I have no doubt we will prevail!

 Kutâputunumuw!

Congratulations to the Class of 2016 ~ Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Graduates are on the Rise!!

Dear Tribal Family,

Pure elation….that’s the only way to describe the pride I feel as I consider the endless possibilities of our Tribal citizens who have recently graduated this spring!

An essential goal as leaders of this Tribal Nation is to provide educational services and support in order to assist our Tribal Education Scholars in reaching and achieving their goals; from kindergarten through 12th grade, as undergraduate students and graduate candidates right here at home. What is more impressive is we have Tribal students with concentrations in the areas of healthcare, law, Human Resources, Medicine, Information Technology, Environmental Protection, Business, Theater & Art, Public Policy  degree seeking programs.

The phrase “Knowledge is Power” is not lost on our Tribal Citizens, this is clearly evident! We see this important education lift in a nation as a true achievement to one’s self-betterment and “Self-Determination,” if you will. The successes of our Tribal graduates have achieved are more than a high school diploma or a degree from an institute of higher-learning…they are advancing our Tribe by virtue of advancing at each and every stage of achievement in their academic career.

What may not be in the forefront of each graduate’s mind is they are now equipped with abilities, capabilities, motivation and upward mobility to compete in the 21st century “global economy.”

With all of these educational degree’s, they are sealing accomplishments, setting the bar higher, all while developing their Leadership Skills.

Our Tribal Nation and the World is a better place, because we have bright, excited and well educated people entering the local, regional, national and global workplace from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation. Our Tribal graduates continue to Inspire as they thrive, achieve and succeed.

We as a Strong, Proud Tribal Nation shall continue to RISE!

Congratulations to all of our 2016 Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Graduates…You are Heart and Soul of our Nation!

                               Kutâputunumuw!

Mashpee Wampanoag Gaming Authority announces “Emerging Leaders Program”

Link

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is launching a new program to advance First Light Resort & Casino’s mission to empower new leaders to be passionate about the gaming and hospitality industry. The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) will run every six months and seeks to equip qualified candidates with the tools and opportunities necessary to rise to and excel in senior gaming and hospitality management roles on a fast-track basis.

The ELP program is only open to citizens of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the application deadline is Monday, June 20. Applications must be completed online at www.mashpeewampanoagtribe-nsn.gov under the “Jobs” Tab. Please make sure to click on the “Read More” link to access the online application.

The six-month program will provide successful candidates with stipends and will be eligible for paid supervised placement. The first ELP cohort will include eight successful candidates in each of the following department areas: Gaming Operations, Finance, Legal, Information Technology (IT), Human Resources (HR), Marketing and Food and Beverage.

In addition to providing program participants with valuable work experience, they will also be challenged to find their personal leadership style, gain an understanding of how to motivate and work with others and to solve complex problems that arise during early stage gaming and hospitality projects.

Expectations on the participants for the ELP program are high. Candidates for the program are expected to commit to at least 40 hours per week and to take initiative whenever possible. They will be asked to do learning milestone reporting and will be expected to exceed expectations.

To be eligible for the program, you must have completed a minimum of a four-year college degree prior to the program completion. Prior experience in gaming and/or hospitality industries is preferred. And you must have the ability to work a minimum of 40 hours per week and participate in departmental rotations.

Don’t worry if this program is not a good fit for you. There will be other future programs (not ELP) available for Tribal citizens with varied educational and work experience.

Kutâputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

Continuing to Build Our Nation!

Dear Tribal Family,

The evolution and growth of our tribal government continues. Over the past few weeks we have brought on many new important employees as well as several employees taking on new roles. But, even as we continue to expand governmental services, we are also seeking out ways to enhance non-government economic opportunities for Tribal citizens and business owners. And I’m not talking about First Light Resort & Casino. I’m talking about the newly formed Community Development Corporation Tribal Council recently ratified, appointing five members: Danielle Hill, Mark Harding, Stephanie Sfiridis; Angela Shwom and Steven Peters. The enacted legislation has set up a corporation to help forge a path for tribal business ventures beyond gaming – from retail and energy businesses to free trade zones, air travel and a variety of other economic development initiatives. Our tribal citizens are also stepping up in local, town politics. We had a group of dedicated Tribal citizens step up and run for a variety of positions during the May 17 Mashpee town elections. While they did not all win their respective races, they reminded us why we need to be involved at all levels and at the table when decisions are being made. They also reminded us of our duty to protect this land that we call home…our need to preserve this land for the next seven generations does not end at the borders of our sovereign land. Join me in thanking Trish Keli’inui, David Weeden, Brian Weeden, Marie Stone and Joan Avant Tavares for stepping up. And remember the opportunities for leadership do not end at the election booth, there are many committee openings in town and I encourage you to put your name in the ring. As we look ahead to one of my favorite times of year – powwow season – I get a little emotional. Even as I write this I can hear the sound of the drum, feel the pulse of our dancers and smell the fritters and fish cakes our traditional cooks will be stirring up at our 95th Annual Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow that’s going to be held July 1-3 at the Cape Cod Fair Grounds. Save the date and let’s Powwow. Right around the time of our powwow we’re also going to be hosting a group of very special guests. Natives from the Hawaiian Islands have been traveling by “Hokule’a”, Polynesian voyage canoe, across the Earth’s oceans to join and grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world…very similar to what we’ve been saying for generations. These guests are scheduled to arrive on our shores around July 1. The schedule is contingent on sea and weather conditions. We look forward to welcoming our guests and sharing more about this with you in the near future. Please join me in welcoming our new employees, thanking all of our citizens that ran for civic offices and congratulating all of our students graduating this month and the members of our newly formed Community Development Corporation – proof that when we talk about growth and opportunity in our Tribal Nation, it’s not just words. It’s an emerging reality.

Kutâputunumuw,

Cedric Cromwell Qaqeemashq (Running Bear)

“We Won!!” ~ Brockton Casino Denied by Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Mashpee wins full exclusivity of Region “C” Gaming landscape

Dear Tribal Family,

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted 4-1 to deny a Brockton Commercial Casino.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has full exclusivity for Class 3 Gaming in Region C!!

We Won!!

Congratulations My People!!

God is Great All The Time!!

Regards,

Cedric Cromwell – Chairman & President

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

2016 Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Balanced Budget for Tribal Operations – Passed!

Dear Tribal Family,

I am pleased to inform you that after months of painstaking work by Tribal Council and Department directors, the 5th annual budget under this administration was passed overwhelmingly by Tribal Citizens who attended the budget presentation at our monthly general membership meeting on April 10.

Of the 119 ballots cast, 88 voted in favor while 31 voted no.

As I noted in my budget letter that was sent out to Tribal households last month, this budget prioritizes funding for housing, healthcare, education, health & human services, Elder and youth services, as well as our food pantry. The model we use – a “wrap-around” services approach – is designed for Tribal Citizens who may have needs in more than one area to tap into all that our Tribal government offers in a much easier way.

This budget also includes resources needed for our own Tribal public safety officers, as we implement Tribal law and order. To do that in a fully accountable and responsible way necessitates we develop and manage our relationships with the Town of Mashpee, City of Taunton, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts. One example of that being the funding needed to execute our Inter-Governmental Agreement which details the infrastructure and traffic improvements needed in order for our First Light Resort & Casino to move forward, as required by federal environmental law.

As I reflect back on the past year, I am amazed at how much has been accomplished, culminating in re-establishing our Sovereign Land.

And now that we have accomplished that, we are fully focused on the forward advancement of our economic development plans, even as we provide programs and services for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation.

I want to thank our Tribal Community for supporting and passing the annual budget. I also want to thank the MWT Elections Committee for presiding over the efficient voting process as well as the Tribal Council for providing due diligence, ensuring the integrity of the process, and seeing to it that vital annual funding levels are honored to support our growth as a Sovereign Tribal Nation!

Kutâputunumuw!