Work on the Law and Order Ordinance began about 3 years ago. It started out initially as a simple civil code to handle minor offenses but with Land into Trust came criminal jurisdiction and more responsibility. The Laws created had to encompass Criminal Offenses, Drug Offenses, Domestic and Family Violence, Gaming Offenses, Community Offenses, and Traffic Violations. Fortunately, the Tribe had been award a grant from the Department of Justice in 2015 to develop the Laws needed for a sovereign government. It was determined that related aspects of Law should be compiled into one Ordinance which became the Tribal Law and Order Ordinance. It is important to inform Tribal Members about what it contains and how it will impact the tribe. A series of articles will be written about the Tribal Law and Order Ordinance. We will start our series with Chapter 1, General Provisions. We have incorporated the Wampanoag language within the document with English interpretations in parenthesis.
Chapter 1. General Provisions
From time immemorial, Wâpanâak (Wampanoag) land has been an important aspect to the meenawôhtam8ôk (culture) and way of life for the Mashpee Wampanoag. The Mashpee have maintained a special relationship and spiritual connection with kutahkeemum (our land), Wutahkeemôwun (our community), and all that encompasses the two.
We name ourselves after the land we live with. Because not only are we breathing in, we are also drinking from the water that is flavored by that very land. Whatever is deposited in the soil is in that water is in us. So we are all one thing, and we name ourselves after the place that is our nurturing. That sustains our life.
The purpose of this Tribal Law and Order Ordinance is to care for the Mashpee kutahkeemun (land) and wutahkeemôwut8ôk (harmony) with Manut (the Creator) and Spirit of the People of the First Light. Weecheetupôwut8ôk means continually having a mind that is together with someone else’s which is vital to be able to maintain stability within the Tribe. In addition, Weech8humôkanee N8hsweehtamuk (Community Health Principle) helps address the connection between the people and the land. The Principle states that the health of the community at large depends on recognizing the connectedness of all things and people, and the responsibility that we all have to each other. For Mashpee peoples, a mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically healthy community is achieved when this Principle is reached.