Wunee keesuq Tribal family,
Our homecoming is just a few days away and once again we will be coming together on our ancestral homeland. The three days that we gather, sing, dance and pray on the land that our people have inhabited since the beginning of time are special. To powwow on this land is another example of why our connection to our ancestral home cannot be broken. It’s also why we continue to push forward with the fight to forever protect our land.
Toward the end of last month, we received very encouraging news about our land in trust.
Judge Rosemary Collyer of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued an order handing our Tribe a key victory in our ongoing effort to protect our reservation homelands from being disestablished by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI).
For background, the order issued by Judge Collyer denied a petition by the plaintiffs in the separate "Littlefield" litigation, the group of East Taunton residents leading the effort against our trust lands efforts, to transfer the Tribe’s case out of the District Court for the District of Columbia to Massachusetts, even though Department of the Interior’s decision was made in the District of Columbia and even though the case is one of national significance for all of Indian Country.
Now that the Littlefields’ transfer motion has been disposed of by the court, we may move forward with presenting its case that the Interior acted unlawfully when it disregarded relevant case law and its own long standing statutory interpretation when the Department of Interior issued a decision last September 7th, that cast a shadow on our land trust status and caused unrest in our community.
This victory comes on the heels of the our tremendous victory on Capitol Hill on May 15th when the U.S. House of Representatives voted in a bi-partisan fashion to pass HR312, our legislation confirming the reservation status of the Tribe’s lands.
The significance of this victory and its importance to our Tribe cannot be overstated. The Tribe has had to endure hardships since the status of its reservation has come under attack. The support we have received from pan-tribal organizations representing more than 250 tribes across the U.S., the support we have received from the House of Representatives, and now this good news from the federal courts have given our people hope.
But the drain on our resources continues to be overwhelming, and we continue to urge the U.S. Senate to finish the work of the House to preserve our limited resources for the housing and caring of our members instead of forcing us to endure further litigation.
Thank you for keeping the faith and keeping, Mashpee above Everything!
Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)