Wunee keesuq Tribal family,
It’s hard to believe that we’re approaching the Thanksgiving holiday season and we’re still fighting to retain 1/10th of 1% of our ancestral homeland. Our ancestors gave the Pilgrims the land to establish Plymouth Colony. Yet here we are. The Tribe that started it all is once again forced to defend its heritage - a legacy that nobody disputes – against legal definitions. It’s a scary proposition that will bring Indian Country back to the Termination Era of the 1960s.
What we’re facing is injustice, plain and simple. It’s injustice that feeds in the dark shadows of ignorance and we’re not going to stand by idly while this happens. So what are we going to do? We’re going to expose it to the light of our culture, heritage and the unity of our brothers and sisters across this nation.
This isn’t just an attack on our Tribe. It’s an attack on all Native Americans. I put the call out to the tribes across the country at last months meeting of the National Congress of American Indians. I asked them to stand with Mashpee and they responded unanimously with a vote at the general assembly to unanimously support our efforts.
Our sovereign right to govern ourselves as a Tribal Nation ensures that we are able to keep with our ancient customs and traditions. Our rights as a sovereign nation are vital to our criminal jurisdiction – our Tribe’s police force will dissolve and our Tribal Court will no longer exercise jurisdiction over criminal cases. Most importantly, our youth will be immediately impacted. The children that are flourishing in our language immersion school and programs on Tribal land will no longer have a school to attend. Think about that. Our school will be required to close its doors.
This is what we’re fighting for. This is what drives me day and night to continue our fight to preserve our land in trust. Without sovereign land, all of the things I’ve mentioned will be threatened. I refuse to allow this administration to bring us back to the Termination Era. We have only one option and it’s to protect our sovereignty.
Stand with Mashpee and thousands of tribal members, friends and neighbors across Turtle Island as we call on Congress to pass the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation Reaffirmation Act. This is the only way our culture, traditions and future generations will be protected.
Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)