Keating Bill to Save Mashpee Tribe's Land Passes House

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act...
Congressman Bill Keating

Washington, DC – Congressman Bill Keating, who represents the South Shore, South Coast, Cape, and Islands, reintroduced the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (H.R. 312) this Congress to provide the historic Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe with federal recognition.

The Mashpee Wampanoag were excluded from the Indian Reorganization Act due the convoluted Carcieri v. Salazar decision.  In 2015, the Obama Interior Department granted the Mashpee Wampanoag land under a different interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act.  In 2018, the Trump Interior Department reversed the Obama Administration’s position, effectively stripping the Mashpee Wampanoag of their land, the first tribe this century to suffer that particular injustice.  H.R. 312 would grant the Mashpee Wampanoag back their land. 

H.R. 312 was originally supposed to be voted on last week under a suspension of the rules until President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition in an attempt to assist his lobbyist and special interest friends.  In response, Congressman Keating along with House Democratic Leadership decided to hold the vote until this week under regular order.

Congressman Keating gave two impassioned floor speeches today in support of the Tribe.  They can be viewed here and here.

Despite the Presidential interference last week, today H.R. 312 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 275 to 146, with 228 Democrats and 47 Republicans voting in favor.

In response to the bill’s passage, Congressman Keating stated:

“This is the Tribe of the First Thanksgiving; the very tribe that is integral to our founding story.  To deny them the right to their land is an absolute disgrace. Without land, the Mashpee Wampanoag are essentially treated as a second-class tribe with no ability to properly govern its people or provide essential services such as housing and education initiatives. Other bills like this have passed the House without controversy, including one signed into law by President Trump last year.  The only difference this time: the President actively tried to sink an entire tribe for overtly corrupt reasons.  Today, the House said that the President’s dirty business has no place here.  I am proud that this bill passed with bipartisan support, and I want to especially thank my good friends Congressmen Joe Kennedy, Tom Cole, Raul Grijalva, Paul Cook, and Ruben Gallego. These Members were committed to helping the tribe and were integral to this bill’s passage. I sincerely thank them for their support.”

“When the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe greeted the pilgrims arriving on these shores, they demonstrated the warmth and grace that defines their descendants living on this land today,” said Congressman Joseph Kennedy III. With the bipartisan passage of this legislation, we move one step closer to codifying the tribal sovereignty that the Mashpee people have deserved for generations. In a country that still too often denigrates and dehumanizes Native Americans, granting the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe control of their ancestral land is one small step towards righting the wrongs of our past.”

“The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is the first tribe to be stripped of its trust land this century,” said Congressman Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the U.S. “The right to a homeland is an essential part of tribal sovereignty and, in the case of the Mashpee, something for which they have fought for hundreds of years. The tribe that first greeted settlers at Plymouth Rock – as well as all tribes – deserve better than this. I am proud to support H.R. 312 to right this wrong and ensure attacks on the Mashpee Wampanoag’s land and sovereignty do not continue.”


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