1. Press Release
  2. Native Americans

Department of Interior disestablishes Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation during global pandemic

By Kerri Colfer, April 6, 2020


Washington - The Friends Committee on National Legislation denounces the action taken by the Department of the Interior to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation on March 27.

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

The land on which the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation exists has always been and will always be Mashpee Wampanoag land; however, disestablishing the reservation will put the sovereignty, culture, and Mashpee Wampanoag people at risk. Without their land, the Tribe will no longer be able to provide important services to its people. Such an attack on tribal sovereignty only serves to continue the legacy of violence perpetrated on Native people by the United States government.

Land is not only essential for carrying out certain acts of sovereignty and for economic development, it is also central to the identity and community of Native people. Attempting to strip a tribe of its land in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is cruel and further burdens tribes during this time.

The federal government has a trust responsibility to promote and protect tribal sovereignty. Therefore, federal agencies, including the Department of Interior, should be assisting tribes and ensuring they are in the best position protect their people during the current health crisis, rather than forcing tribes to defend their land rights in addition to addressing this crisis.

We ask that the Senate join the House of Representatives to honor the promises made to Native people by passing a clean Carcieri fix (PDF) (H.R. 375/S. 2808), which would protect tribal trust lands like the Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation, and reaffirm the status of the Mashpee Wampanoag’s reservation through H.R. 312.

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.

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Kerri Colfer

  • Congressional Advocate, Native American Advocacy Program

Kerri manages the Native American Advocacy Program, lobbying on legislation that affects Native communities.