my land my future
“My Land, My Future”: young tribal citizens take part in a #StandWithMashpee rally at the U.S. Capitol on November 14, 2018. Photo by Indianz.Com (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

A federal judge is holding a hearing in Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe v. Bernhardt, 18-cv-2242, at 10am Eastern on May 20, 2020.

As all federal courthouses are closed, the hearing is taking place via video and teleconference. The public can listen in with the following information:

Toll Free Number: 877-848-7030

Access Code: 8204797

The case is before Judge Paul L. Friedman. He will first hear opening arguments from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, followed by a 15-minute recess.

Friedman will then hear from the Department of Justice, representing Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, and also from non-Indian opponents of the tribe in Massachusetts. Another 15-minute recess will take place.

The tribe will wrap up with rebuttal arguments as it seeks to prevent the trump administration from taking its reservation out of trust amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The federal government has not taken an Indian nation’s reservation out of trust since the termination era of the 1960s. The policy was repudiated by Congress and by the executive branch in the 1970s.

On the eve of the hearing, a bipartisan group of members of Congress sought to file a friend of the court brief in the case. They say the Trump administration’ s “unlawful attempts” to strip the tribe of its land must be stopped.

“Congress, therefore, has a right and a duty to weigh in on the issues presently before the Court and to urge the Court to consider the Secretary’s egregious attempts to legislate in Congress’ stead,” a motion accompanying the proposed brief states.

 

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