Litigation | Openings & Closings

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe files notice of appeal in casino lawsuit

Artist's rendering of the First Light Resort and Casino in Taunton, Massachusetts. Image from Steelman Partners / Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts is mounting an appeal in its gaming land case.

The tribe won approval of its land-into-trust application for the First Light Resort and Casino in September 2015. But opponents convinced a federal judge that the Bureau of Indian Affairs made the wrong call.

The tribe is now taking the case to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals. Chairman Cedric Cromwell was confident that the judge's decision will be overturned.

"This is a continuation of our fight to remain on the land that our ancestors walked upon and lived on for thousands of years," Cromwell said in a statement.

Cromwell also disclosed that the BIA was preparing to revise the original record of decision with respect to the land-into-trust application. The judge had opened the door for that type of reconsideration.

"I am confident that our tribal homeland will be preserved by the federal government," Cromwell said.

The lawsuit is based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. Opponents believe the tribe can't follow the land-into-trust process because it was "not under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934. The Mashpees gained formal recognition in 2007.

Both the tribe and the Department of Justice filed separate notices of appeal on Thursday.

Read More on the Story:
Mashpee Tribe Files Notice to Appeal Court Ruling in Effort to Restart Casino Plan (CapeCod.Com 12/8)
Legal battle over tribal casino in Taunton bumped up to appeals court (The Boston Globe 12/8)
Mashpee tribe signals notice to appeal judge's ruling (The Cape Cod Times 12/8)

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)

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