Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Massachusetts Governal Patrick Says He Will Talk With Mashpee Wampanoag Indians

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Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said yesterday that he will meet with the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians and said he was unaware that the Mashpees had requested to meet with him previously.

Gov. Patrick´s statements were made in response to yesterday´s media accounts in which the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe´s chairman said the governor would not meet with the Tribe concerning their quest to build a casino in Massachusetts.

In that article, Mashpee Tribal Council chairman Cedric Cromwell told the Boston Herald, “If the governor refuses to deal with us and distributes licenses to other casino operators, we won’t give the state a cent when we build a gaming facility in Southeastern Massachusetts.” Governor Patrick responded to the Mashpee while on a Boston radio talk show.

Massachusetts legislators could approve expanded gambling in that state while the Mashpee Wampanoags, federally recognized in 2007, are focusing on building a casino on reservation land under federal Indian gaming laws.

Gov. Patrick´s administration has encouraged the state´s two federally recognized tribes to apply for a commercial casino license under state law, should such a law ever be approved in the future, instead of building an Indian casino on reservation land. Gov. Patrick has previously proposed legalizing casino gambling that would permit three commercial casinos in Massachusetts but it is unclear exactly what form of expanded gambling could eventually be approved by state legislators.

The Mashpees hope to have proposed casino land in Middleboro, Ma., taken into trust by the federal government as reservation land but a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year blocked the ability of most tribes federally recognized after 1934 to add land to their reservation. Congress is currently working on rewriting the law so it is clear that all federally recognized tribes, including those tribes recognized after 1934, can add land to their reservation.