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Tribe Believed To Have Been First Native Americans To Encounter Pilgrims 400 Years Ago Stripped Of Reservation Status By Trump

Essdras M Suarez/The Boston Globe via Getty Images // Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Despite being in the throes of a pandemic that's upended daily life in the United States, President Donald Trump's Department of Interior announced that it would be revoking the reservation status of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe—the Native American Tribe located in what is now Massachusetts.

The Tribal members are widely believed to be descendants of the first indigenous peoples to interact with the pilgrims, whose establishment of Plymouth County would begin a cycle of centuries-long disease and cruelty unleashed upon the land's original inhabitants.

The disestablishment of the Mashpee Wampanoag's reservation status threatens the autonomy of the tribe, and—if the move wasn't bad enough—comes at a time of immense national uncertainty.

Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a statement:

"Today's action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary [of the Interior Department] is under no court order to take our land out of trust. He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing."
"It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee's crusade against our reservation?"

After pointing out that this was the first time since the mid-twentieth century that an Interior secretary had taken such action, Cromwell continued:

"Regardless of the answer, we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. We have survived, we will continue to survive. "

"These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always. And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed."

Trump had feuded with the tribe over a planned gaming operation as recently as last year.

The threat to native people posed by this precedent can't be overstated.

People were disgusted—though sadly not surprised—at the continued cruelty of the Trump administration.