Where’s Warren? Original Tribe That Welcomed Pilgrims Fights MA and Fed Govts To Keep Their Land

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 8, 2020
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There are many vast parcels of land across North America that originally had been delineated and owned by native Indian tribes, and to which their descendants have valid claims. And one of the states best known for those original tribes and parcels is Massachusetts, a bastion of supposed leftist “inclusion” and acceptance.

But as people struggle under the weight of COVID-19 crackdowns, it seems that the main focus of many MA and US politicians is “inclusion” of other people’s earnings into government coffers, and “acceptance” of native-owned lands into the oh-so-caring bosom of government.

As even the leftist 'progressive' paper The Indypendent reports, the tribal descendants of those who welcomed the Pilgrims to New England in 1620 are now fighting in federal court to retain the last shred of land their ancestors originally owned.

They are the Mashpee Wampanoag of Cape Cod, theirs was the tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620, and in March they were informed by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs that the US government was revoking the trust status of their 321 acres of land, leaving them open to tax-hungry local and state politicians.

The dispute could be researched all the way back to 1763 and King George III’s proclamation ordering a cessation of land-grabs from, and hostilities towards, American Indian tribes, a proclamation that weeks later saw 2,000 Indians gather with American colonial representatives at Fort Niagara, NY, to agree to a new alliance with the Crown.

The alliance didn’t stand. Colonial and US politicians continued to carve out huge swaths of Indian tribal lands. From Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Act that displaced thousands and saw mass death and deprivation on the Trail of Tears, to the century-and-a-half long institution of the Indian Boarding School policy -- that saw government agents kidnap Indian children, ship them to prisons euphemistically called “Boarding Schools” and subject them to torture, brainwashing, and cultural genocide under the motto, “Kill the Indian, Save the Man ” – American politicians for more than two-hundred years have shown disrespect for Indian tribes, their people, and their property.

And this week, the Mashpee Wampanoag argue in a government court to protect the less-than 0.5 percent of their land that they still “control”.

Notes The Indypendent:

Today, 321 acres remain under Mashpee Wampanoag ownership — less than 0.5 percent of their original territory. The majority of the tribe’s 2,600 enrolled citizens live in the nearby town of Mashpee.

Tribe member Danielle Hill spoke to the website:

Mashpee was at one point the reservation set aside for ‘praying Indians’ who had converted to Christianity. However, ‘the state incorporated Mashpee as a town in 1870 because they wanted our resources,’ Hill explains. ‘And then pieces of the land started to be sold because the natives couldn’t pay the land taxes. That’s how non-natives started to live on the land.’ 

In 1934, the federal government passed the “Indian Reorganization Act”, which allowed federally recognized tribes to have their land put into trusts in order to protect them from that kind of attack.

And, though it took decades, the Wampanoag eventually were allowed to reorganize.

In 2015, the Obama administration granted the Mashpee Wampanoag their bid to place their land into trust. The tribe promptly began building housing developments, a Wampanoag language school and created their own tribal court. Being on reservation lands, these crucial projects were eligible for federal benefits and exempt from state taxes.

And everything seemed fine… Until the tribe set about planning a casino.

See, the government of Massachusetts recently decriminalized casino gambling – in certain pre-selected, politically favored, areas – and made deals with certain “chosen” developers to run the casinos while the state sucked in the tax cash.

But a Mashpee Wampanoag casino would be competition, and tax-free competition at that, so, well… You know the drill.

Some locals sued to stop the project, stipulating:

…that the Department of the Interior had no authority to place the Mashpee land into trust, claiming that the Indian Reorganization Act — which allows land to be put into trust for native tribes — requires a tribe to have been federally recognized as such at the time of the passage of the IRA in 1934. As the Mashpee did not receive federal recognition until 2007, this meant that they were ineligible to receive land in trust.

And, as The Cape Cod Times reports:

The Interior Department had taken 321 acres of the tribe’s land into trust in 2015, but U.S. District Judge William Young ruled a year later that the tribe was not under federal jurisdiction at the time the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934, disqualifying it for land-in-trust status. He had sent the case back to the department, which in 2018 reversed its previous decision… The tribe lost its appeal of that ruling in federal court in Boston, but a separate action filed in the Washington, D.C., court challenges the department’s reversal.

Right now, the land and the people are in limbo…

The Interior Department ordered March 27 that the land be removed from trust status and the tribe’s reservation be disestablished, but both parties agreed that the order is under a 45-day pause period.

And, as COVID-19 crackdowns make it difficult for people in Mashpee to meet with lawyers or raise funds for their legal fight, the federal government has unlimited funds to makes its case even as it runs the court system above the state system.

The issue will be heard via teleconference this week. Because, of course, COVID-19 crackdowns prevent real court hearings.

But, strangely, there’s no word on this from "caring" Massachusetts Governor, Republican Charlie Baker, whose collectivist leanings have seen him recklessly label free speech rally organizers as possible “hate” mongers, despite the group being ethnically diverse, full of anti-war and small-government advocates, and merely calling for freedom of expression.

Likewise, as a friend noted to me, Faux-a-hontas herself, MA Senator Liz Warren (D) is nowhere to be seen.

One would think that with her self-styled “high cheekbone” claim to Native American Indian heritage (shown to be a lower possibility than what would be seen for the majority of white US citizens), she would be on top of this issue of land rights and taxation and theft.

Ah, but she repeatedly has shown she favors taxation and more government seizure of earnings and property, not less.

Strange, how politicians can speak volumes by remaining mum, even as some American Indians struggle to be heard in a government court so they can keep a tiny speck of their own land.