Cheryl Andrews-Maltais serves as chairwoman of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe. Photo Senate Committee on Indian Affairs

Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe hails win in long-running sovereignty case

The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe is once again calling for talks in Massachusetts after securing victory in a long-running sovereignty case.

And those talks might include a more lucrative location for a casino, according to The Boston Globe. The tribe has been focusing on a small gaming facility on the island of Martha's Vineyard but a source told the paper that other options are on the table.

“If the Vineyard is the only alternative, they’ll build on the Vineyard,” the unidentified source told The Globe. “If there is another alternative, they’ll build there.”

Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais was not available for comment on the issue, the paper said. But she issued a statement on Tuesday that said the tribe was considering its "options."

“Now that this issue is finally resolved, we’d like to put the legal battles behind us, and focus on working with the town and commonwealth; to weigh our options and determine the best pathway forward for us to provide the necessary services of health care, elders’ and children’s services, education, housing, and employment opportunities for all of our tribal members,” Andrews-Maltais said in the statement.

The statement came after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left in place a lower court decision that affirmed the tribe's sovereign rights. The development confirmed that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act takes precedence over state and local restrictions on gaming.

Class III games, like slot machines and card games, are legal in Massachusetts but state and local officials claimed their laws barred gaming on the tribe's reservation. The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals concluded otherwise in a unanimous April 2017 decision that now stands as precedent thanks to the Supreme Court's action.

Read More on the Story:
Fresh off legal win, Vineyard tribe could eye bigger prize (The Boston Globe January 9, 2018)
High court lets Vineyard tribe's gambling hall proceed (The Associated Press January 8, 2018)

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

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