The Disestablishing of Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Reservation

There has been recent news about the loss of trust status of a large portion of the land that belongs to the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts. The tribe was notified on March 27, 2020 that the Department of the Interior was “disestablishing” their reservation and that the land would be taken out of federal trust. “While Indian Country was responding to the growing number of coronavirus cases in its communities, the Trump administration was busy revoking the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in Massachusetts.” (Vox, 4/2/2020). By taking their 321 acres of land out of federal trust, the Interior Department’s order also removes the tribe’s ability to govern on its land. This process has been done only one other time since the Termination Policy in the 1950s. While reservation lands are often associated with Indian tribes’ unique ability to oversee casinos, maintaining trust land also allows them to provide critical services to their members.  

Leticia Smith, a member of our fellowship, will present a background and summary of the issues involved. She will also facilitate discussion on what the situation of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe can mean to us as a Unitarian Universalist community, and on the possible courses of action available to us as a group, and as individuals, to support the tribe.