A small federally recognized tribe in Massachusetts apparently wants Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) far away from legislation that will help them open a casino in the Bay State.
As Breitbart News has reported extensively, Warren has made false claims of Native American ancestry since 1984.
To date, Warren has produced no documentary evidence to support her claim. Her 2020 presidential campaign, which has recently been picking up steam, almost failed to launch after the debacle created in October when she issued a press release and video purporting that genetic evidence supported her claim. However, her announcement that she had taken a DNA test which showed that she has between 0.1 percent and 1.6 percent DNA in common with residents of Peru, Mexico, and Colombia was almost universally derided by Native American tribes as an insulting claim lacking credibility.
Earlier this month, H.R. 312, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, a bill that “reaffirms the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation as trust land in Massachusetts” passed the House by a margin of 275 to 146, with 228 Democrats voting yes and only two voting no. Forty seven Republicans voted yes, while 144 voted no.
If the bill passes the Senate and is signed by the president, it will enable the tribe to construct a casino in Taunton to be called First Light Resort & Casino, according to the tribe’s website.
The 2,600 member Cape Cod, Massachusetts-based Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which gained federal recognition in 2007, acquired the rights to the land intended for the casino in Taunton, which is not located on Cape Cod where the tribe is historically based, in 2009, with the help of an estimated $400 million from a Malaysian company.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) was an early sponsor of the bill.
But you won’t see her name listed among the sponsors when the bill comes to the floor of the Senate, in part because her own debunked claims of Native American ancestry could draw unwanted attention to some questions about the historical authenticity of claims made by the tribe surrounding the reasons for converting the acquired land in Taunton to a land trust.
“One year ago, Warren was a Senate co-sponsor of the Mashpee Restoration Act. She was ready to fight for the tribe and its casino. Just last April she visited the tribal offices to show her support,” Boston Herald columnist Michael Graham wrote back in April. Graham continued:
Today? She’s gone. In the wind. Nowhere to be found. Why? Because the Mashpees don’t want her around.
“She’s been waved off,” a gaming industry source told me. “Everyone knows it’s her bill, but they [the Mashpees] don’t want her anywhere near it.”
And why would they? If you’re a proud Mashpee Wampanoag who treasures your Native American heritage, Warren’s an embarrassment. And if you’re just an opportunist hoping to make a few bucks off an Indian casino — she’s even worse.
“The problem has always been that federal law says a tribe must have been federally recognized by 1934 in order for the feds to create new tribal lands where they can, among other things, build a casino. The Mashpees weren’t federally recognized until 2007. And that only happened because of the money they poured on notoriously corrupt D.C. lobbyist Jack Abramoff,” Graham continued.
The path to federal recognition for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was controversial. Glenn Marshall, the former head of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council for many years, was indicted and convicted on several charges just months after the Tribe received federal recognition in 2007.
His successor, Cedric Cromwell, unlike Elizabeth Warren, has documentary evidence that shows his own Native American Ancestry–the 1860 census showed that his great-great-great grandfather, Joseph Tobey Sr. is listed as “Indian.”
But the specifics of the tribe’s land trust claim are in dispute, despite the House vote that moved the bill to the Senate.
The tribe’s historical connections to Taunton, Massachusetts, were questioned in this 2013 Cape Cod Times article. According to the Times:
Reaction to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s claims of significant historic ties to Taunton was swift and in some cases predictable.
“Put your full waders on. It’s starting to get deep,” Middleboro Selectman Allin Frawley, a casino opponent, posted on his Facebook wall linking to a Sunday Cape Cod Times story reporting the claims.
The Times obtained copies of two widely anticipated reports contained within the tribe’s application to have 146 acres in Taunton and 170 acres in Mashpee taken into trust by the Department of the Interior.
One report claims historic and modern ties to Cohannut, which encompasses modern-day Taunton, as part of the larger Pokanoket tribe. The other, prepared by tribe lawyers, attempts to demonstrate the Mashpee tribe was always under federal jurisdiction so a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, known as the Carcieri decision, would not prevent the tribe from getting land.
And, as the Boston Globe reported in 2012, other tribes also dispute the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s historical connection to Taunton. According to the Globe:
The first step in placing the Mashpee Wampanoag’s target casino site in Taunton into federal trust – a requirement for tribal gaming to move forward there – was taken Wednesday, with the US Bureau of Indian Affairs gathering public concerns over possible environmental effects of the project.
About 200 people turned out for the hearing, most opposed to building a casino resort in the East Taunton industrial park.
A half-dozen representatives from a string of Pokanoket tribes, standing together at the microphone, questioned the Mashpee tribe’s right to the Taunton land, arguing that the Mashpee have no historic ties there.
Billy Guy, sagamore of the Pokanoket, outlined his tribe’s 400-year history in Southeastern Massachusetts.
“The Mashpee were never part of this area,” he said. “I don’t know why the Bureau of Indian Affairs is backing them. You need to check the history and do the right thing.”
President Trump has wasted no time in “blasting Elizabeth Warren over the Mashpee Wampanoag land bill,” as the Boston Herald reported last month.
“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!” Trump wrote.
The bill would reaffirm the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe reservation as trust land in Massachusetts. It comes after the Trump administration last year overturned a ruling allowing for the trust, which put a $1 billion casino project in jeopardy.
Warren, who has faced criticism for her Native American ancestry claims, slammed Trump at the time, saying his administration was “reneging” on “yet another deal” with Native Americans. But she is not listed as a co-sponsor of the current bill. Her presidential campaign and Senate teams did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
As Sen. Warren continues to rise in the polls, her role in the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act as it makes it way through the Senate will almost certainly continue to draw attention from President Trump.