The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe is pointing to a recent legal opinion from the U.S. Department of Interior as a major boost for its bid to have land placed into trust for a resort casino in Taunton.

    The department said tribes are not required to have been federally recognized before 1934 to be eligible for a land-in-trust designation by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    The legal memorandum, dated March 12, sought to clarify a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said the government was prohibited from taking land into trust for tribes that were not under ``federal jurisdiction'' in 1934.

    Since the Mashpee did not gain federal recognition until 2007, questions have been raised about whether the Taunton land can be taken into trust for a casino.

    Wampanoag chairman Cedric Cromwell said the tribe is encouraged by the decision.

(Associated Press)