Wunee keesuq Tribal family,
I often use this column as a platform to inform our tribal nation of historic events, pivotal community service program updates and to update you on our fight to protect our ancestral homeland. It’s important that you understand the issues facing our people. Today I want to have an open conversation about the threats we face…threats that want to fracture and break our community.
We have the Littlefields who neighbor our sovereign land in Taunton that are driven by hatred for Native Americans and ensuring we do not get a “single inch.” There’s Neil Bluhm of Rush Street Gaming and legislators in Rhode Island that are actively trying to sabotage our ability to self-govern to protect their gaming interests. And we have a couple of tribal members that continue to push theories of tribal corruption to achieve their own personal gain. The actions from these people are threating the very fabric of our government and our future.
Tribal members, it’s okay to disagree with policy, decisions made at the council table or personal choices without making unfounded accusations of misdoings. Unfortunately, the practice of making accusations has become a common practice within our community over the past few years and it’s now boiling over to a point where the damage may be irreversible. We need to uplift our Tribe not tear it down, we need to have constructive conversations based on facts not speculation, and we need to realize we are all working toward bettering our world for future generations.
The pressure on our Tribe caused by the United States’ failure to protect our reservation along with the pressure from casino developers concerned with protecting their bottom line is a real threat to our future.
We’ve been in difficult situations throughout the history of our people, but we withstood it by standing together as a tribe. In the 1600s they came at us with disease, enslavement and war. In later generations we were attacked with forced assimilation outlawing our traditions, culture and language. Today we’re being attacked with legal definitions of federal jurisdiction and a bureaucratic litmus test so cumbersome it’s taken over 40 years. We must stand together as our ancestors did and as I’m sure our future generations will as well.
We expected to face injustice and racial prejudice at every turn. What we did not expect was internal threats that will inadvertently further derail our efforts to protect our land, our culture, our traditions and the many community service programs that our friends and family rely on.
We cannot continue to fight amongst ourselves like this. It’s not healthy. We have politicians on both sides of the isle that are willing to fight for us. Earlier today we saw this again as Congressman on both sides of the isle overwhelmingly supported bringing our land affirmation act out of committee and to the full floor for a vote in Congress. They understand the injustice that has taken place and the ripple effect this will have on the rest of Indian Country. However, they cannot take this fight on alone. We have to stand together. We, as a people, are the best advocate for our survival.
The pressure caused by the United States’ failure to protect our reservation is taking a toll. We’re all frustrated. As a tribal member we feel a need to assign blame. Unfortunately, the small group of neighbors in Taunton, legislators in Rhode Island and casino developers working against our interest are rarely seen and easily forgotten. So, we look inward to assign blame and to make sense of the position we’ve been placed in.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Leadership is extremely difficult. It requires solutions over obstacles. I do my best to keep our tribal nation moving forward, but I cannot do it alone. Your tribal council cannot do it alone. You as a tribal citizen have a responsibility to understand the issues and the threats and then come together to overcome any obstacles placed in our way.
Mashpee above everything!
Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)