Feds Request Delay In Tribe's Lawsuit

The US Department of the Interior has requested a delay in the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s lawsuit challenging the department’s recent ruling that the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction in 1934.

Sara E. Costello, representing secretary of the interior Ryan K. Zinke, requested that the defendants have until January 9 to respond to the tribe’s claims. Ms. Costello’s filing, issued on Tuesday, November 20, did not offer much in the way of reasons for the delay other than that the tribe’s complaint is complex and requires further time for review.

The summonses are part of a lawsuit filed by the tribe in September asking that the Interior Department reverse a decision that threatens the tribe’s land.

Interior Department officials ruled in September that the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction at the time of the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act of Congress, calling into question how the tribe could be granted land in trust given recent court decisions.

Tribal attorneys argue in the district court case that when the Interior Department ruled, it failed to consider the entirety of the tribe’s testimony and instead argued each individual point on its own.

Mr. Zinke is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

As of Wednesday, November 21, the court had not ruled on the request for a delay.

By Sam Houghton, Mashpee Enterprise