To members of the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs and United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs:
We oppose the application for Land In Trust of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and protest the review of the Mashpee Wampanoag Compact by the Secretary of the Interior due to the following:
1. Governor Patrick’s letter of support sent to the Secretary of the Interior with the compact, notes that compact negotiations were conducted before the tribe had governmental control of the land; governmental control of land is a requirement of IGRA.
2. IGRA does not have the authority to create trust land, nor can it apply to a tribe that does not have governmental powers over land. Approving a compact without regard to the prerequisites, gives the impression that if you can apply IGRA because a tribe wishes to conduct gaming, trust land will be granted after permission to game. This has not been the case under any administration since IGRA was passed in 1988.
3. The compact claims geographic exclusivity for the tribe in Southeastern MA (Region C) except that the law allows for a slot barn in that region, which negates the exclusivity for anyone gaming in Region C.
4. Governor Patrick is supporting the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s application for trust land despite the Carcieri decision, which eliminates the possibility of trust land for this tribe. Furthermore, Governor Patrick submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court of the United States supporting Governor Carcieri in limiting the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to create trust land for tribes recognized after 1934, raising some serious questions about why he is now supporting the application for trust land.
5. Governor Patrick also mentioned pursuing a land claim settlement with the tribe for their land in Mashpee, an issue already decided in Federal court. Also, Governor Patrick cannot circumvent the Supreme Court decision which prevents land claims by Indian tribes in the United States.
6. Governor Patrick’s letter states that mitigation payments will be used for the Commonwealth, when IGRA requires mitigation payments are used to support local governmental operations.
7. Governor Patrick’s letter of support indicates that on June 9, 2012, the host community voted in favor of allowing the casino. This is deliberately misleading because the host community is East Taunton (wards 3B, 4A and 4B see City of Taunton website) which voted against the tribal casino. Wards in Taunton were also allowed to vote on this measure, and those wards voted in favor.
8. Trust land cannot be created in any of the 13 original colonies, which includes Massachusetts, because there is no federal surplus land to place in trust.
9. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe does not have historical ties to the land in East Taunton as required by federal law. The tribe’s Final Determination has already identified Mashpee, Massachusetts as the tribe’s historical land.
10. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe commissioned a study by Harvard University, which resulted in a report in 2011 which states that this tribe does not possess the ability to self-govern.
11. In 2008, Governor Patrick wrote a letter of opposition during the public comment period for the Environmental Impact Study, where he raised many jurisdictional concerns. Governor Patrick noted each objection by asking the tribe to address jurisdictional issues. He now supports this project without any of these issues being addressed.
12. There has been a repeated, ongoing lack of transparency by numerous local and state elected officials who have sworn to uphold the constitution and protect its citizen’s rights.
13. This tribe’s proposed casino location is located in a garden style industrial park with deed restrictions. These restrictions should not be ignored or rezoned to accommodate a casino which is 300 feet from an Elementary School.
14. The Massachusetts State Compact with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe does not address gaming in Mashpee, Massachusetts; however the Tribe’s Land in Trust application clearly states the Tribe’s desire to receive land into trust for the purpose of gaming. Whereas the compact does not address that possibility, it should not be approved
15. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has submitted a grossly inadequate and incomplete application for Land Into Trust.
16. After assuming a leadership of the tribe, Chairman Cedric Cromwell appeared before the Middleboro Selectmen and assured them that he was committed to honoring the Inter-Governmental Agreement the tribe had signed with the community five years ago. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has since walked away from this deal with little regard to the commitment made to that community, continues to owe that community large sums of money, and since has attempted to make casino deals in Bridgewater, New Bedford and Fall River before approaching Taunton. This tribe is clearly reservation shopping.
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