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Federal Government Drops Appeal Against the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe


The U.S. Department of the Interior has withdrawn its appeal of a lawsuit against the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

The department under President Trump attempted to remove the reservation status, but federal district judge in D.C. Paul Friedman last year found that their argument was misguided.

The Interior Department filed an appeal of Friedman's decision, but -- under the Biden Administration -- the department motioned to drop the appeal on Friday.

A group of East Taunton residents that have fought the tribe’s reservation and casino, also agreed to drop the appeal.

Vice-chairwoman of the tribe Jessie Little Doe Baird says this is a triumphant turn for the tribe, and she says she is looking forward to closing the book on this painful chapter in the tribe's history.

“It’s not the end of a war, but a triumph of something monumental. That’s how it feels. It’s been a long rough road.”

Congressman Bill Keating also praised the decision by the Interior Department.

"Trump Administration’s sudden attempt to remove their land from trust last March — in the midst of a pandemic — was heartless," Keating said in a statement. "We’re reassured that the Biden Administration’s action today clearly reflects the best interest of justice."

The tribe is now waiting on a ruling from the interior department whether it qualifies for a reservation under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.

An attorney representing the East Taunton plaintiffs in the case have not responded for comment.