Opinion: State asks Obama to break pledge to tribes
"The decision by the federal gvernment in 2007 to recognize the Mashpee Wampanoag as a historic Indian tribe documents tribal efforts to preserve their rights. The decision relies on extensive evidence, including census records from 1694, that shows the continuous existence of a few hundred native people in Mashpee, living as they always had — free to hunt, fish and use the natural resources that sustain them — until around 1970, when development of their lands began in earnest.

The decision also documents Mashpee's 1833 "revolt" for freedom of religion when Benjamin Franklin Hallett, the first chairman of the Democratic National Committee, denounced degrading attacks against them and advocated for the just enforcement of their rights.

Massachusetts Historic Preservation Officer Brona Simon issued her findings confirming Wampanoag religious cultural interests in Nantucket Sound on Nov. 5, the same day President Obama met with representatives of America's 564 federally recognized Indian tribes. At that time, he promised his administration would observe the law in its dealings with them.

Gov. Deval Patrick is now pressing President Obama to break this promise and to ignore the federal rights of the Aquinnah and Mashpee Indian tribes. Governor Patrick said at his inaugural, "Massachusetts invented America. American ideals were first spoken here, first dreamed about here." The centuries-long struggle of the Mashpee Indians exemplifies the truth of this statement as well as its challenge."

Get the Story:
Fain P. Gildea: Patrick presses Obama to break a promise (The Cape Cod Times 2/15)

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