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Land-trust case raises red flags across Indian Country

July 4, 2018

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) — The Cape Cod tribe whose ancestors broke bread with the Pilgrims is facing the loss of a federal land designation that’s allowed it to control a slice of its historic lands.

The Mashpee Wampanoag (WAHM’-puh-nawg) tribe says an unfavorable decision from the U.S. Interior Department would shut down the tribe’s new court, police force and other government functions. It also would scuttle a $1 billion resort casino plan.

The Interior Department is reconsidering a decision to place roughly 300 acres in trust for the tribe. Bills in Congress would preserve the status.

Indian law experts say the Mashpee case could mark the first time in decades that a tribe has lost land held in trust by the U.S.

Tribes are also voicing concerns about the Interior Department’s separate efforts to revamp the process for seeking reservation land.

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