"My Land, My Future": Young tribal citizens take part in a rally at the U.S. Capitol on November 14, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

Brian Lightfoot Brown: The time is now to #StandWithMashpee

Over the past 11 years, Indian Country has made several attempts to gain a clean Carcieri fix. And in small doses, some tribes have had success in gaining and/or restoring tribal land into federal trust.

The Carcieri decision, also known as Carcieri v. Salazar, ruled on February 24, 2009 that only Native American tribes that were “now" under federal jurisdiction could follow the land-into-trust process, with “now" meaning 1934 when the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) became law. This decision, illogically and unfairly, blocks all Native American tribes who have gained federal recognition status since 1934, from placing their lands into federal trust, unless they can prove that, if not by recognition, they were under federal jurisdiction by some other means in 1934.

In 2015, under the Obama Administration, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the tribe who welcomed the Pilgrims to Plymouth nearly 400 years ago, were awarded trust status for their 321-acre reservation. The Tribe made it clear that they intended to build a casino and resort on the land to help create jobs for Native and non-Native alike and to help grow much needed tribal programs. As is the norm, opposition arose to dispute this venture.

Donald Trump then moved into the White House, even appointed an Alaska Native, Tara Sweeney (Inupiaq) as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. She reviewed the case and reversed the decision made in 2015 and set in motion to remove the Mashpee Wampanoag land from trust status. Furthermore, the courts upheld Sweeney's decision amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, many tribes have not held a popular opinion of Tara Sweeney over her handling of many Indian Country matters. She is currently under fire for allegedly preparing to misappropriate funds intended for all of Indian Country.

So it is at this point, I come to Indian Country yet again. I ask that you click the link below and sign this petition to push the U.S. Senate to pass H.R.312 to reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation as federal land AND pass H.R.375 to allow the DOI to place tribal land into federal trust, regardless of when the tribe received federal recognition status, as the IRA intended.

If you've already signed it, now share with others to also sign it. #StandWithMashpee #CleancarcieriFix

• Pass HR 312 and HR 375: https://www.change.org/p/u-s-senate-pass-hr-312-and-hr-375

Kutaputush (Thank You)

Brian Lightfoot Brown is an enrolled citizen of the Narragansett Tribe. This opinion is his own.

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