MASHPEE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has ordered the disestablishment of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's reservation, and that its land be taken out of trust.
On Friday, Chairman Cedric Cromwell announced on the Tribe's website he had been informed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs of the Trump Administration's order.
In an open letter entitled "We Will Take Action to Prevent the Loss of our Land," Cromwell said the news came "on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic."
He said that "begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee's crusade against our reservation?"
The Tribe's 321 acres of land in the Cape Cod area has been the cause of an ongoing legal battle, including over a proposal to build a casino there, and over its legal designation as "tribal homeland."
Cromwell said a Secretary has not taken action to disestablish a tribal reservation "since the termination-era of the mid twentieth century," calling the action "cruel and... unnecessary."
"We the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago," Cromwell's statement said. "We have survived, we will continue to survive. These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always."
(Photo: Getty Images)