Chairman Cedric Cromwell of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe addresses the #StandWithMashpee rally at the U.S. Capitol on November 14, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe said to rebuke chairman as financial situation worsens

Things are not looking good for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose homelands are in danger of being taken out of trust by the Trump administration.

According to The Cape Cod Times and The Mashpee Enterprise, the tribal council cast a unanimous vote of "no confidence" in Chairman Cedric Cromwell on Wednesday. The council also voted unanimously to strip Cromwell of his authority over the tribe's finances and of his role on the tribe's gaming arm, the outlets reported.

“It makes sense to me that they should put him on a leash,” Aaron Tobey Jr., a former ally of Cromwell who is seeking a seat on the council, told The Times.

Cromwell's troubles stem in part from concerns about his personal finances. The Times reported last week that he and his wife, who also serves on the council, owe federal back taxes.

But the tribe itself is dealing with a crisis. Less than $84,000 remains in its general fund, the paper reported, a sign of uncertainty affecting its homelands.

During the Obama administration, the Bureau of Indian Affairs placed the tribe's reservation in trust. A federal judge, however, ordered the agency to take another look at the matter after opponents of a proposed gaming facility went to court.

That's when the Trump administration backed away, concluding that the tribe cannot benefit from the land-into-trust process. The decision, which is being challenged in court, paves the way for the reservation to be taken out of trust for the first time since the termination era.

Without the reservation, the tribe cannot move forward with the casino. The facility was expected to serve as a source of revenue for the tribe and its programs, which have been feeling the pain of the ongoing government shutdown.

H.R.312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, would prevent the tribe's lands from being taken out of trust. It also would require any legal challenges to be dismissed.

The bill has bipartisan support in the House.

Read More on the Story
Sources: Mashpee tribe's chairman stripped of financial control (The Cape Cod Times January 25, 2019)
Documents show Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in dire financial situation (The Cape Cod Times January 24, 2019)
Tribal Council Votes No Confidence In Chairman (The Mashpee Enterprise January 24, 2019)

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