Interior Department rules against tribe in trust land bid

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts tribe says it’s been dealt a “tremendous blow” in its bid to protect its reservation lands.

Mashpee Wampanoag (MASH’-pee WAHM’-puh-nawg) Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said the U.S. Department of Interior notified the tribe Friday it cannot hold land in trust for the tribe.

The decision says the tribe doesn’t qualify because it wasn’t under federal jurisdiction when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed in 1934.

The Cape Cod tribe received federal recognition in 2007.

The department took about 300 acres into trust for the tribe in 2015, but a federal judge ordered the agency to reconsider the decision in 2016 after local residents sued.

Friday’s decision could scuttle the tribe’s plans for a $1 billion casino in Taunton. Indian law experts have suggested it could also have broader implications .

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