First US Circuit Court of Appeals agrees to go ahead with the hearings of the tribe’s appeal regarding the federal court ruling of 2016 that turned the plan for casino down. The news came out on Wednesday from Cedric Cromwell, Mashpee tribal chairman. The court, however, is anticipated to issue the ruling after several months.
The official website of ‘Stand with the Mashpee’ campaign writes,
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s citizens are currently suffering a massive loss of resources and services due to the uncertainty of the trust status of the Reservation.
Millions of dollars of funding are being lost or delayed for our clean water program, our children’s education and critical community service programs. It’s also a direct threat to our emergency services, housing and substance abuse program that’s desperately needed to combat the opioid epidemic.
The hearing will be conducted in Boston on the 5th of February. The tribe will be provided with a time duration of quarter-hour to propose its argument. A federal judge in 2016 gave the ruling regarding the decision of Obama-era taking the land for Mashpee into trust and said it was crippled as the tribe did not come under the 1934 federal jurisdiction while India’s Reorganization Act was enacted as a law.
The case was sent for review back to the DOI, which was followed by a reversal of the decision in 2018. This bereaved the tribe of the casino along with the sovereign reservation.
Cromwell said in a statement that,
Through this appeal, the Tribe hopes to uphold the original Record of Decision accepting the Tribe’s land into trust. This appeal concerns the question of whether the Department of Interior was authorized to take the Tribe’s land into trust.
The Mashpee already secured funding from the Malaysian casino Genting for the project. It also offered monetary assistance to the government of the tribes. The project was ready to kickstart in 2016, and it would have been the first-ever Light Resort & Casino to build over 300 rooms, with 3,000 slot machines and 150 table games with 40 poker tables.
But some Taunton residents, supported by Neil Bluhm, a casino developer and a staunch rival of the project, launched a legal battle, which led to the derailment of the project ultimately.
The Mashpee could just get a federal credit in 2007 while losing its homeland ownership to the white settlers gradually during the 19th century. This happened despite the surfacing of an ancestral tribe known to have dined with the Pilgrims during the first Thanksgiving.
The tribe, therefore, was left in debts of around $500 million owed to Genting. Besides, the possible loss of the reservation further aggravates the economic hardship.