January 2018 Chairman's Column
Greetings Tribal Family,
Let’s welcome the New Year with open arms and open minds. 2017 was a year that certainly tested our resolve along with our faith in the Creator and our connection to our homeland. But let’s remember that we as a people have persevered through much more and will once again press on to remain on our Tribal lands for many generations to come. I can promise you we will prevail in our fight to preserve our land, culture and heritage.
President Trump has stated that his administration is committed to Tribal Sovereignty and Self-Determination and our Tribe will continue to fight to protect these rights and our land base. Our Tribal lands remain in trust and the Administration must do the right thing under the law and its long established trust responsibility to protect our reservation. The failure of this Administration to protect the Tribe’s reservation will have a negative ripple effect on our Tribal members as we would risk losing vital community programs that are based on grants associated with trust lands. The United States must uphold its trust responsibility and the law by re-certifying our Trust lands in harmony with the President’s commitment to Tribes.
That fight that I referenced, the one that’s been dragging on for over 40 years, has already taken a toll on our financial and professional resources. I’ve talked about it in my monthly column and at our meetings for some time. We’ve been looking for creative ways to reduce our budget, maximize our in-house resources, and efficiently use grant funding at our disposal in order to minimize any downsizing to our staffing level.
Layoffs have been a last resort option to bring our operational budget in line with our income. We underwent a painstaking 5-month exercise reviewing our expenses, the Consultants and Attorneys to find every dollar of savings possible. Thankfully we were able to find meaningful savings.
In the end we did have to reduce our staffing level with minimal disruptions to the services and programs we provide to our community. We are family and every staff member that’s displaced weighs heavily on our hearts. We are Mashpee.
Our Tribal Administration team has provided access to resources offered by the Department Of Labor in an effort toward transition. And certainly we continue to encourage the use of all services available to Tribal members offered by our various departments.
There is strength in our Tribe and we will be here to lift each other up in times of need. Let’s never forget that we are stronger together.
Looking forward, we have a busy year ahead of us. We’re patiently waiting for a positive decision on our updated petition regarding our trust lands. We’re also continuing to challenge the legal decision that originally challenged our rights as a sovereign nation and other avenues that will forever protect our land.
However, beyond this important fight we also have several other projects on the burner that we think will improve our bottom line. A little over a year ago we developed the Mashpee Wampanoag Community Development Corporation. They have working quietly in the background since its inception to develop the frame of a successful business incubator and they will be looking to roll out our first businesses in 2018. This is a group that has been working almost entirely from grant funding and volunteers and have made great progress. There are very few business enterprises that can achieve this sort of startup progress with essentially no cash infusion, but they are doing it. It goes to show what we can accomplish together and the strength we possess as a Tribe.
I would like to take this time to wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous New Year and want to let you know that I will continue to push on to make sure that in 2018 our Tribe is successful and strong.
Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)