Town and Tribe Extend Public Safety MOU

A memorandum of understanding will continue another year between the Town of Mashpee and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to supply public safety on tribal lands.

Mashpee selectmen signed the fourth year-long agreement February 11, the first time the compromise was reached without any public contention.

The year-long memorandum essentially lays the groundwork for the town to supply some emergency services on tribal sovereign ground.

The memorandum reads like a mutual aid agreement. It states that the tribe intends to serve jurisdiction over trust lands in accordance with federal law, while accepting the city’s fire and emergency service during an interim period.

According to the memorandum, state and local government hold criminal jurisdiction over non-Native Americans on the trust lands.

According to the document, the tribe would grant permission to city officers for them to enter the trust lands for the purpose of law enforcement of non-native Americans. City police must ascertain the identity of the subject and inquire if the subject is Native American.

In the event the subject claims to be Native American but is not in possession of a Tribal Enrollment Card, a city officer shall contact a tribal police officer to verify the status. If the subject is a non-native, the city officer will take jurisdiction; if the subject is a tribal member, a tribal officer would detain the subject.

If a city officer believes a Native American threatens public safety, the officer must provide a notice of entry onto the trust land and report the identity of the Native American. The city official can detain the Native American subject until the tribal officer assumes custody of the individual. The tribal officer will make every effort to detain the subject within two hours, and the city must then “immediately” release the subject.