Tribes dispute New England casino plot

The dispute involves a plot of land in Taunton.
The dispute involves a plot of land in Taunton.

A dispute over land has created another obstacle to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s $1bn casino resort project.

US.- A dispute has arisen between Native American tribes in New England over land on which one of them plans to build a casino.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been aiming for several years to build a $1bn hotel, casino and entertainment complex on a parcel in Taunton, which was set aside for them by the federal government.

But the recently revived Mattakeeset Massachuset Tribe argues that it is the rightful heir to the land and has urged the state to recognise its claim based on colonial-era documents.

The Mattakeeset chief sachem, Larry Fisher, contends that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is entitled to around half of the roughly 300-acre reservation but that the other half was never part of the tribe’s history.

At least two other tribes, as well as local casino opponents, have accused the Mashpees of exaggerating their ancestral territory.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has responded to the claims arguing that it is a smaller band within the broader Wampanoag people.

According to Fisher, the Mattakeeset’s claims have been raised with the US Department of Justice’s Office of Tribal Justice but it has not yet responded.

The Mashpee tribe has faced other threats to its land claim, jeopardising its casino plans. While the Obama administration granted it rights to the land in 2016, the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to revoke the tribe’s entitlement to the 300-acre site.

The tribe faced further problems last month when its former chairman, Cedric Cromwell was arrested on federal bribery charges in connection with the casino project.