Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe defends closure of beach access path
The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts says it has a right to block access to a popular beach because the path is on trust land.

The tribe placed a pile of twigs, some brush and a sign on the path to Lobsterville Beach. "We do this in order to preserve the work that we do to restore and preserve the delicate natural environment, on and near the beaches and cranberry bogs," Chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais said in an e-mail to The Martha's Vineyard Times.

Andrews-Maltais is willing to discuss the issue with leaders in the town of Aquinnah. But she said a last-minute invitation to a public meeting was not an example of good government-to-government relations.

"We gave the Town a week to make arrangements to attend and an option for another time if the time wasn't convenient. Not only didn't we get much more than a day's notice, it was for a public discussion not a government-to-government discussion," Andrews-Maltais said in the e-mail.

In 1987, Congress passed an act to settle the tribe's land claims. The state courts have ruled that the settlement subjected the tribe to local and state laws and that it waived the tribe's sovereign immunity for alleged violations of local and state laws.

According to a community organization, the town owns the beach and the tribe agreed to provide access under the settlement act.

Get the Story:
Aquinnah selectman to meet with tribal council over beach path (The Martha's Vineyard Times 8/5)

Related Stories:
Town upset after Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe blocks beach path (7/23)