Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about anti-casino lawsuit

Cedric Cromwell, the chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, speaks at a casino job and vendor fair in Taunton, Massachusetts, on May 14, 2016. Photo from Facebook

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts isn't worried about a lawsuit filed by casino opponents.

The tribe broke ground on the First Light Resort and Casino in early April. Opponents are asking a federal judge to halt construction but Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the facility is on track to open in the summer of 2017.

"We do not see this lawsuit against the federal government as having any impact on our progress,' Cromwell told The Cape Cod Times.

The tribe appears to be on strong legal ground because the complaint in Littlefield v. Department of the Interior names the Bureau of Indian Affairs as the defendant. Due to sovereign immunity, the tribe cannot be sued without its consent.

"In no other case has a court had to confront a sovereign tribe, put into immediate possession of trust lands, starting to construct a casino before any judicial review has occurred," attorney David Tennant, who is representing the casino opponents, said in an affidavit that was filed in support of a request to halt construction on the project.

The BIA approved the land-into-trust application for the casino last fall and the land was declared a reservation in January.

Get the Story:
Wampanoag casino opponents seek injunction (The Cape Cod Times 5/28)
Taunton casino opponents ask judge to halt construction (The Boston Globe 5/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has clear path for casino, but a mountain of debt (The Boston Globe 5/28)
Casino Developers Not Waiting Out Litigation (Banker & Tradesman 5/29)

Land-Into-Trust Documents:
Chairman Cedric Cromwell Announcement | Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Press Release | Bureau of Indian Affairs Press Release | Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn Letter to Chairman Cedric Cromwell | Record of Decision

DOI Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sees large turnout for casino job fair (05/16)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe invites all to casino job and vendor fair (5/10)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes rejection of rival casino bid (4/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe disputes rival's casino market study (4/26)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe awaits decision on rival casino plan (4/20)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to host job and vendor fair for casino (04/13)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe moves full steam ahead with casino (4/12)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe confirms groundbreaking for casino (3/30)
Rival casino opposed by Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe awaits fate (3/29)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and rival spar over potential casino (3/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe responds to doubts on gaming plan (3/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe awaits word on rival casino project (3/18)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about casino site lawsuit (3/17)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe leaves casino operation to big firm (3/16)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe announces opening of casino in 2017 (3/15)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe foes confident as casino moves forward (3/9)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to break ground on long-awaited casino (3/8)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe presses state to reject rival casino (3/3)
Non-Indian billionaire slams Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (3/2)