Saturday, August 8, 2009

City Report Claims Wampanoag Have No Legitimate Land Claim

The Enterprise's Alice Elwell reports that  a $5,000 report, commissioned by Halifax selectmen, that it claims shows the Wampanoag tribe has no legitimate land claims.

“It’s yet another hurdle to cross,” said Richard Young, president of Middleboro’s CasinoFacts as well as the statewide coalition, Casino Free Mass.
John H. Bruno II, chairman of the Halifax Board of Selectmen, said his board commissioned the so-called Lynch report and submitted it in February in opposition to the tribe’s application to take land into trust.
Bruno said that besides the lack of tribal ties to the land, there are a host of other issues that should prevent the Mashpee Wampanoag from opening a casino in Middleboro.
“I hope the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) questions their claim to a right to establish a casino on that property,” Bruno said.
The town of Halifax opposes a casino in Middleboro and selectmen have joined the Southeastern Regional Task Force On Casino Impacts. Bruno said the Lynch report was paid for by his town and commissioned independently of the task force.
Aaron Tobey, vice chairman of the tribal council, said the Mashpee Wampanoag are relying on an in-depth study undertaken by New York researcher Christine Grabowski.
Tobey said Grabowski’s final report has yet to be released, but during a presentation last year, she compiled “convincing evidence” the tribe has links to the land in Middleboro.
But about the Lynch report, Tobey said, “In all honesty, if it’s true it will save us all a lot of headaches.”
The tribe is moving forward with the land-into-trust application that seeks to take more than 500 acres in Middleboro out of state jurisdiction and turn it into a reservation to be used for a casino.
Brian P. Giovanoni, former chairman of the town’s Casino Resort Advisory Committee, says he found inaccuracies in Lynch’s report from the beginning.
He said the Lynch rebuttal consists of eight key points which debunk the tribe’s ties to Middleboro and claims the Mashpee Wampanoag are a “new unique community.”
Giovanni said that claim is in direct contradiction to the tribe’s federal recognition, which found continuous tribal ties dating to first contact with the Settlers.
“He’s saying this tribe didn’t exist in 1620,” Giovanoni said. “He’s contradicting the findings of the federal government.”
What legal hurdles will Governor Patrick and Senator Murray face trying to push through this special deal for the Wampanoag now?  Will this mean Asian gambling syndicate Genting's money with the Wampanoag was a bad bet?

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