Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe must keep fighting despite gaming win

Dancers at a powwow hosted by the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Photo: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe won a major gaming case in federal court last week but the battle isn't over yet.

Officials in the town of Aquinnah voted to pursue an appeal of the landmark ruling, according to news reports. And so did a community association that opposes the tribe's plan for a small gaming facility on the reservation.

But one big and important party has remained silent so far. The state of Massachusetts hasn't said whether it will keep fighting the tribe.

“I hope and am optimistic that they will join,” town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport told The Vineyard Gazette.

Indianz.Com on SoundCloud: 1st Circuit Court of Appeals oral arguments in Commonwealth of Massachusetts v Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head December 6, 2016

In a unanimous decision, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed that the tribe open a small Class II facility on its homelands. The ruling rejected the town's and the state's attempt to assert "exclusive" jurisdiction on the reservation.

The parties could ask the 1st Circuit to rehear the case. Or they could take the dispute to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The tribe's reservation is located on the island of Martha's Vineyard.

Read More on the Story:
Aquinnah selectmen authorize appeal of tribe ruling (The Martha's Vineyard Times 4/20)
Town, Taxpayers Will Fight Casino Ruling in U.S. Court (The Vineyard Gazette 4/20)

An Opinion:
Jack Fruchtman: A narrow ruling by the First Circuit Court of Appeals: A case analysis (The Martha's Vineyard Times 4/18)

1st Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Massachusetts v. Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) (April 11, 2017)

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