The federal Bureau of Indian Affairs told the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe on Friday that the tribe's reservation will be "disestablished" and its land taken out of trust, per an order from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell announced in a post on the tribe's website.
The Mashpee Wampanoag and their ancestors have lived on and around Cape Cod for thousands of years. They are one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. But their status was not formally recognized by the US government until 2007. As Boston.com explains:
The federal government hasn’t removed a tribe’s land trust status against its will since the mid-20th century’s so-called Termination Era.
The move Friday came after a federal appeals court ruled against the tribe last month, upholding a lower court’s ruling that the Mashpee Wampanoag didn’t qualify to have their land taken into trust because the tribe wasn’t federally recognized in 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act was passed, creating a process to restore sovereign land rights.
The "legal" argument here is largely based on the (injust) ability for the descendents of colonial settlers to decide who does or does not qualify as Native American based on their genetic makeup and/or appearance, rather than cultural connection or involvement. Essentially, the claim is that, since this tribe was not recognized (because of assumptions of default whiteness) at the time when all of the other Native American landtrusts were established under US law, it is illegitimate. Read the rest