Town upset after Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe blocks beach path
A pile of twigs, some brush and a sign is stirring a new controversy for the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts.

The tribe recently blocked an access path to the popular Lobsterville Beach on Martha's Vineyard. The decision has enraged leaders in the town of Aquinnah.

"The taxpayers in town are being deprived of their right to access to the beach and that right is established by an act of Congress," town selectwoman Camille Rose told The Martha's Vineyard Gazette.

The path was closed because it was not a public path, the director of the tribe's natural resources department told The Martha's Vineyard Times. Parking also has been restricted to two points along the beach.

"It is a piece of private property," Bret Stearns told the paper. "The tribal lands are not open to public access, with the exception of where it has already been established by agreement."

In 1987, Congress passed an act to settle the tribe's land claims. The state courts have ruled that the settlement subjected the tribe to local and state laws and that it waived the tribe's sovereign immunity for alleged violations of local and state laws.

The tribe will hold a public meeting next week to Thursday to discuss the issue.

Get the Story:
Tribe Blocks Path to Beach (The Martha's Vineyard Gazette 7/23)
Aquinnah selectmen question tribe decision to close Lobsterville Beach path (The Martha's Vineyard Times 7/22)