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.
This is a form of genocide. Theft of land, the breaking up of our nations, is the beginning of the end for legal re… https://t.co/Q2gVmh9dHO— ashley fairbanks (@ashley fairbanks)1585405855.0
It’s important to remember that the government has NEVER given native people ANY rights. Our rights are inherent. W… https://t.co/M3OIjYrmvx— ashley fairbanks (@ashley fairbanks)1585405856.0
BIA is a colonial entity, always has been and always will be. Land dispossession is a genocidal move now especial… https://t.co/8gFuyjbkOM— Pervy Sage Bundle 💋 (@Pervy Sage Bundle 💋)1585374130.0
Everyone should be absolutely outraged by this. https://t.co/jPa690DuZz— Yvonne Houssin (@Yvonne Houssin)1585408509.0
Landback memes are dumb. We’ll never get land back before we stop land taking. https://t.co/rSmva0ATUs— Lakȟótiyapi wókičhiyaka and chill? (@Lakȟótiyapi wókičhiyaka and chill?)1585590798.0
People were disgusted—though sadly not surprised—at the continued cruelty of the Trump administration.
Holy Cow! In the middle of a pandemic, Trump's gov't decides to disestablish a Native American Indian reservation a… https://t.co/u4VrQMCuaC— Cindy Blackstock (@Cindy Blackstock)1585411669.0
This is sickening. The federal government is using this time to steal Native lands and deny the legitimacy of Nativ… https://t.co/FzQfvknFwN— Jason Herbert (@Jason Herbert)1585402827.0
Colonization is not history, it’s on ongoing process that is still happening to this day https://t.co/zFZ5yHEHRR— Ethan Nizzi (@Ethan Nizzi)1585375165.0
Deeply concerning news that should alarm all who value the sovereignty of Native peoples and the nations to which t… https://t.co/CnhQs0PGaZ— Nathaniel Sheidley (@Nathaniel Sheidley)1585413985.0