General Society of Mayflower Descendants supports Wampanoag tribe against federal "disestablishment"
You may have missed it among all the COVID-19 news but the U.S. Department of the Interior this week acted to "disestablish" the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe's reservation (2 sets of acreage in southeastern MA.) This is a very complicated situation that has been underway for years with the tribe obviously wanting to keep their reservation land as such, and use it to the benefit of the tribe. Various components of the federal government are or have been acting against or in support of same based on interpretation of a 2009 Supreme Court decision, Carcieri v. Salazar, against the Narragansett Tribe in nearby RI. In its Pilgrim Press newsletter emailed to subscribers yesterday, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, more familiarly known as "The Mayflower Society" reiterated its support of the Wampanoag, whose ancestors taught the Pilgrims how to plant and otherwise survive in coastal New England. (Few if any had been farmers in England.) The article links to the GSMD's original December 2018 statement. The Mashpee tribal office is closed due to COVID-19 but they have a website and you can sign a petition in their favor, read their newsletter, etc. The Dept. of the Interior posted a statement that seems to be saying, "we just did what the court ordered." It is undoubtedly a very complicated situation but supporting the Mashpee Wampanoags right now helps buy them time while they try to get an emergency restraining order from the federal district court in Washington D.C. and until they can get the U.S. Congress to pass and the President to sign what is currently H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act. The larger issue is the legal rights of tribes given federal recognition after the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act. These are not the only two such tribes.
Dr. Maura Mackowski is an Arizona research historian who enjoys the challenge of looking for Mayflower descendants, hers and anyone else's.
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