Mashpee Town Manager Rodney Collins will be traveling to Capitol Hill to advocate for pending legislation that would end a legal challenge to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation.
The Mashpee Board of Selectmen issued a statement Tuesday expressing its disappointment over a Sept. 7 decision by the U.S. Department of the Interior that found the tribe was ineligible to have its 321 acres of land taken into trust. The board has authorized Collins to meet with the town’s legislative consultant and members of Congress to “further advocate for the adoption” of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reaffirmation Act. The legislation was introduced by U.S. Rep. William Keating and U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, both Massachusetts Democrats, in the House and the Senate, respectively.
“We know that tribal officials have worked diligently and explored every possible avenue with the (Interior) to establish a record to support its trust application, and we share the tribe’s frustration with this most recent decision,” the statement, signed by board Chairwoman Carol Sherman, says. “The selectmen will continue to support the tribe’s endeavors to obtain federal trust status for its lands, and, otherwise, remain fully committed to undertaking any action required to fulfill the terms, purpose and intent of the Intergovernmental Agreement executed by the town and the tribe on April 22, 2008.”
The selectmen moved to formally back the legislation in May after leaders exchanged letters over the town’s concerns that the proposed legislation did not include reference to the 2008 agreement between the town and the tribe. The selectmen worried that without explicit reference to the agreement, the passage of the legislation would have created legal ambiguities.
After it was agreed that such language be added to the bill, the town hired David Mullon Jr. to lobby for its passage. Mullon served as a senior attorney on the U.S Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and as chief counsel at the National Congress of American Indians, according to biographical information on his firm’s website.
By Tanner Stening/Cape Cod Times