Cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe addresses the #StandWithMashpee rally at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on November 14, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe warns of losses due to stalled casino

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is facing a bleak winter thanks to the Trump administration.

The tribe might have to lay off employees, close its language school and stop offering critical services, Chairman Cedric Cromwell announced last week. That's because plans for a casino have been derailed by litigation and by the Trump administration's refusal to reaffirm the status of the tribe's land in Massachusetts.

"“This situation is unsustainable, with or without a developer,” . Cromwell said in the statement, The Mashpee Enterprise reported. “The federal government’s inaction has created a dire threat to our ability to meaningfully self-govern. In leaving us in this limbo, the United States turns its back on our people."

The tribe's developer is reeling too. Late last month, Genting Malaysia announced a $440 million "impairment loss" on its investment in the stalled casino.

To prevent further losses, the tribe and Genting are asking Congress to pass the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act. The bill (H.R.5244 | S.2628) prevents the tribe's reservation from being taken out of trust.

H.R.5244, which enjoys bipartisan support, received a favorable hearing before the House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs over the summer. But the House Committee on Natural Resources has yet to schedule a markup, the next session in the legislative process.

S.2628 hasn't advanced in the Senate either. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs is holding an oversight hearing this Wednesday and is planning a business meeting before the end of the year but the bill does not appear to be on the agenda.

If Congress does not take action before the end of the 115th, Congress, the bill would have to be introduced in the next session, which begins in January.

The tribe's land remains in trust for now. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, there exists no regulatory process for a reservation to be taken out of trust.

A tribe's land hasn't been taken out of trust since the termination era of the 1950s and 1960s.

Read More on the Story
Investor Loss Could Hurt Wampanoags (The Mashpee Enterprise December 6, 2018)
Mashpee tribe leader warns of job, service cuts (The Taunton Daily Gazette December 7, 2018)

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