Litigation | Openings & Closings

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe enters new year with casino in limbo




Cedric Cromwell, center, serves as the chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. Photo: First Light Resort and Casino

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was hoping to debut its casino in Massachusetts this summer but a lawsuit has put the $1 billion project on hold.

The lawsuit prompted the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take another look at the land-into-trust application for the First Light Resort and Casino. The tribe and casino opponents are now submitting information to the agency through February, The Cape Cod Times reports.

At issue is the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. In February 2009, the nation's highest court held that the BIA can only place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934.

The Mashpee didn't gain formal recognition until May 2007 so casino opponents don't believe the tribe qualifies as being "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934.

The court, however, did not define what "under federal jurisdiction" means. So the BIA look at treaties, laws and other historical actions to determine whether a tribe meets the test.

Read More on the Story:
The winding road to a Wampanoag casino (The Cape Cod Times 1/1)

Court Decisions:
District Court of Massachusetts: Littlefield v. Department of the Interior (July 28, 2016)
D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals: Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon v. Jewell (July 29, 2016)

Supreme Court Decision in Carcieri v. Salazar:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

Department of the Interior Solicitor Opinion:
M-37029: The Meaning of "Under Federal Jurisdiction" for Purposes of the Indian Reorganization Act (March 12, 2014)

Related Stories:
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino in limbo amid change in DC (12/14)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe files notice of appeal in casino lawsuit (12/9)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino faces unknowns with Donald Trump in office (11/10)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sees hope in casino land litigation (10/14)
Bureau of Indian Affairs faced pressure to approve gaming deal (09/29)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe granted role in casino land dispute (09/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in limbo after decision on casino site (09/13)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe awaits word on role in casino lawsuit (08/31)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hails bid to reconsider casino ruling (08/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in high stakes fight for casino and land (08/22)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe files motion to join casino land dispute (8/16)
Opinion: Court decisions appear in conflict on tribal gaming rights (8/15)
Indian law experts debate outcomes in two land-into-trust cases (8/4)
Two tribes see conflicting rulings in long-running quests for casinos (8/2)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe continues work on casino despite ruling (8/1)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sees setback in land-into-trust dispute (7/29)
Obama administration backs Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino bid (07/08)
Judge focuses on Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino decision (06/30)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino foes lose big source of funding (6/28)
Judge schedules trial in Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino case (6/21)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe not worried about anti-casino lawsuit (05/31)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe sees large turnout for casino job fair (05/16)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe invites all to casino job and vendor fair (5/10)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe welcomes rejection of rival casino bid (4/28)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe disputes rival's casino market study (4/26)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe awaits decision on rival casino plan (4/20)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to host job and vendor fair for casino (04/13)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe moves full steam ahead with casino (4/12)