Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

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Mashpee Wampanoag
Indian Tribal Council, Inc.
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( Massachusetts)
English, Wampanoag
traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
other Wampanoag people

The Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council, Inc., formerly known as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is one of two federally recognized tribes of Wampanoag people in Massachusetts. The other tribe is the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). They are headquartered in Mashpee, Massachusetts.

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe consists of more than 1,400 enrolled members[1] who must meet defined membership requirements including lineage, community involvement and reside within 20 miles of Mashpee.[2] Since 1924 they have held an annual powwow at the beginning of July in Mashpee.


The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council was established in 1972 under the leadership of its first president, Russell "Fast Turtle" Peters. In 1974 the Council petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs for recognition. In 1976 the tribe sued the Town of Mashpee for the return of ancestral homelands. The case was lost but the tribe continued to pursue federal recognition for three decades.

in 2000 the Mashpee Wampanoag Council was headed by chairman Glenn Marshall. Marshall led the group until 2007 when it was disclosed that he had a prior conviction for rape, had lied about having a military record and was under investigation associated for improprieties associated with the tribe's casino lobbying efforts.[3] Marshall was succeeded by tribal council vice-chair Shawn Hendricks. He held the position until Marshall pled guilty in 2009 to federal charges of embezzling, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion and election finance law violations. He steered tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to politicians through the tribe's hired lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted of numerous charges in a much larger scheme.[4][5] Following the arrests of Abramoff and Marshall, the newly recognized Mashpee Tribe led by new chair Shawn Hendricks, continued to work with Abramoff lobbyist colleague Kevin A. Ring pursuing their Indian gaming-related interests.[6] Ring was subsequently convicted on corruption charges linked to his work for the Mashpee band. Tribal elders who had sought access to the tribal council records detailing the council's involvement in this scandal via a complaint filed in Barnstable Municipal Court were shunned by the council and banned them from the tribe for seven years.[7]

In 2009 the tribe elected council member Cedric Cromwell to the position of council chair and president. Cromwell ran a campaign based on reforms and distancing himself from the previous chairmen, even though he had served as a councilor for the prior six years during which the Marshall and Abramoff scandals took place - including voting for the shunning of tribe members who tried to investigate.[8] A challenge to Cromwell's election by defeated candidates following allegations of tampering with voting and enrollment records was filed with the Tribal Court, and Cromwell's administration has been hampered by a series of protest by Elders over casino-related finances.[9][10]


The Mashpee Wampanoag tribal offices are located in Mashpee on Cape Cod. After decades of legal disputes, the Mashpee Wampanoag obtained provisional recognition as an Indian tribe from the Bureau of Indian Affairs in April 2006, and official Federal recognition in February 2007.[11] Tribal members own some land, as well as land held in common by Wampanoag descendants at both Chapaquddick and Christiantown. Descendants have also purchased land in Middleborough, Massachusetts upon which the tribe under Glenn A. Marshall's leadership had lobbied to build a casino. The tribe has moved its plans to Taunton, Massachusetts but their territorial rights have been challenged by the Pocasset Wampanoag.[12]

Economic development[edit]

Indian gaming operations are regulated by the National Indian Gaming Commission established by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It contains a general prohibition against gaming on lands acquired into trust after October 17, 1988.[13] The tribe's attempts to gain approvals have been met with legal and government approval challenges.[14]

The Wampanoag Tribe's current plan has agreement for financing by the Malaysian Genting Group and has the political support of Massachusetts Senator John Kerry,[15] Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and former Massachusetts Congressman Bill Delahunt, who is working as a lobbyist to represent the casino project.[16] Both Kerry[17] and Delahunt[18] received campaign contributions from the Wampanoag Tribe in transactions authorized by Glenn Marshall as part of the Abramoff lobbying scandal.

In November 2011, the Massachusetts legislature passed a law to license up to three sites for gaming resort casinos and one for a slot machine parlor.[19] The Wampanoag are given a "headstart" to develop plans for a casino in southeastern part of the state.[20]


  1. ^ Final Determination for Federal Acknowledgment Report, Bureau for Indian Affairs, February 15, 2007.
  2. ^ Mashpee Wampanoag Enrollment Ordinance, Bureau of Indian Affairs, filed 2007.
  3. ^ "WampaGate – Glenn Marshall: There is still much to tell", Cape Cod Times, August 26, 2007.
  4. ^ "Former Wampanoag leader sentenced", Boston Globe, May 8, 2009.
  5. ^ "Marshall Timeline", Cape Cod Times, August 25, 2007
  6. ^ Cape tribe feels heat from lobbyist scandal, Cape Cod Times, September 11, 2008.
  7. ^ Fed letter demands 8 pages of tribe's letters to Abramoff, others, Cape Cod Today, October 9, 2007.
  8. ^ "Cedric Cromwell elected chairman", Cape Cod Times, February 2, 2009.
  9. ^ Mashpee Wampanoag elders gather outside tribal headquarters yesterday, seeking information about the tribe's finances since Chairman Cedric Cromwell took over, Cape Cod Times, September 24, 2009.
  10. ^ Nellie Hicks Ramos v. Patricia Keliinui, 2009 Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Election Committee Chair, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Court, January 17,2012.
  11. ^ "Mashpee Wampanoag win federal recognition". Boston Globe. 2007-02-15. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  12. ^ Pocasset Mashpee Wampanoags at odds over which tribe should get casino license for Taunton, Enterprise Press, April 18, 2012.
  13. ^ National Indian Gaming Commission, "Indian Land Options"
  14. ^ "City ends deal to sell land for Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino", Indian Gaming, January 19, 2011.
  15. ^ WPRI News, "Sen. Kerry to support tribe land trust", September 8, 2010.
  16. ^ "Former Congressman Bill Delahunt to Represent the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe", Indian Country News, March 12, 2011.
  17. ^, "Wampanoag federal campaign contributions" 2006.
  18. ^ "Former MA Congressman to Lobby for Tribal Casino", Casino Suite News, March 11, 2011.
  19. ^ Associated Press, "Massachusetts: Casino Bill Passes in Both Houses", New York Times, November 15, 2011
  20. ^ Mark Arsenault, "Developers start to jockey for casino sites/Early groundwork laid in Springfield, Palmer", Boston Globe,November 18, 2011

External links[edit]