Column: Put an end to Wampanoag land claim
"I first met Amelia Bingham in the early 1970s when I was bringing my students to different historical sites around Cape Cod. The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum had just opened and she was in charge of the place. Mrs. Bingham was a gracious and knowledgeable hostess, and my students learned a lot about Native American history on our visits there.

So I watched with sadness and dismay when, in more recent years, Mrs. Bingham was rudely shunned by a group of tribal council insiders for asking legitimate questions about the tribe's finances. I couldn't believe that a long-time representative of the tribe could be treated so shabbily.

To her credit, Mrs. Bingham continued to challenge the tribal leadership over her status and, with the election of new members of the tribal council, she has been reinstated as a full member.

Had that been it, the story would have had a nice ending. Instead, Mrs. Bingham and her son, Stephen, filed a case last October in federal court against the town of Mashpee and the commonwealth of Massachusetts to reclaim lands that were originally deeded to the descendants of the "South Sea Indians," a name by which the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe was once known.

They also want compensation for loss of the land. In pressing their claim, the Binghams ignore the continuing bad feelings that remain from the mid-1970s tribal lawsuit that clouded property titles in Mashpee for years. And their action disregarded the Wampanoag tribal agreement with the town of Mashpee last year to give up future property claims in exchange for the town's support of a land-to-trust application for the 140 acres already owned by the tribe in Mashpee."

Get the Story:
Jim Coogan: When a claim becomes an obsession (The Cape Cod Times 6/23)

Related Stories:
Judge asked to reconsider Wampanoag land claim (3/27)
Judge dismisses Mashpee Wampanoag land claim (5/7)
Judge takes on Wampanoag land claim lawsuit (4/2)