U.S. House Votes to Recognize Mashpee Wampanoag
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives voted 275-146 Wednesday for legislation sponsored by Rep. William Keating to give federal recognition to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.
In a statement, Keating said the bill passed with bipartisan support despite what he called "interference" from President Donald Trump, who tweeted last week about his opposition to the bill, calling it "unfair" and noting it is supported by 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
"This is the Tribe of the First Thanksgiving; the very tribe that is integral to our founding story," Keating said in a statement. "To deny them the right to their land is an absolute disgrace." Keating said bills "like this" had passed before and been signed by Trump.
The Interior Department in 2015, during the Obama presidency, granted the Mashpee Wampanoag land under an interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act, according to Keating's office. A federal judge in Boston in 2016, however, nullified that decision, and last year, with Trump in office, the same department reversed the Obama administration's position and made the tribe "the first this century to suffer that particular injustice," Keating said in his statement.
Rep. Tom Cole, co-chair of the Native American Caucus, said that reaffirming the trust status of the Mashpee reservation and bringing it back into tribal trust "rights a significant wrong."
"It marks an important step in our shared American journey, and I was proud to support it," Cole said.
The bill now moves to the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate.
The Mashpee Wampanoag started in on plans for a tribal casino in Taunton in April 2016, but the project has not advanced amidst debate over the tribe's status.