Statement Released on Mashpee Wampanoag Disestablishment

Statement Released on Mashpee Wampanoag Disestablishment

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           Massasoit, Wampanoag Tribal Chief who aided the Pilgrims
UPDATE: Support is needed! Please call the Committee on Indian Affairs at 202-224-2251 in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, Senate Bill #2628, sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey. Read text of the bill here.

New actions in support of the Mashpee Wampanoag


On March 27, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts of a U.S. Department of the Interior order to disestablish the tribe’s reservation and remove its land-in-trust status.

In a statement from the Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Nation, Cedric Cromwell writes, “At 4 PM today - on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic - the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our land be taken out of trust. Not since the termination era of the mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.”

Vice Chair Jessie Little Doe Baird says that the order will terminate the Tribe’s ability to self-govern, strip the Tribe of their reservation lands, and effectively terminate them as a recognized people.

In this year that commemorates the 400th landing of the Mayflower, the Southern New England Conference of the United Church of Christ, the direct descendants of those pilgrims, stand firm in solidarity with the Wampanoag Nation and their right to their land. As those whose history includes oppression and colonization, we can no longer participate in the heinous crimes of the Doctrine of Discovery, nor claim the right to Manifest Destiny. We will work to repair the breach that our ancestors wrought by unequivocally repudiating the actions of this government, and we call for the return of this land to the Mashpee Wampanoag.

We seek to follow the lead of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe as they call for action and solidarity. We work in fellowship with our sibling denominations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, the New England Quaker community, and others, who also call for the return of land to the Mashpee Wampanoag. We invite our churches and members to take action – write, call, post, spread the word. Even in this time when we are isolated, we can stand together as people of faith, to do what is right.

Siblings in Christ, as we prepare to walk the road to Calvary, let us remember the One who refused to stop loving in the face of hate, the One who went to the cross because He insisted on God’s love for those the empire would despise, the One who rose that we might know God’s mercy and forgiveness even in the face of sin and oppression. As people of faith, disciples of Jesus, let us stand with our siblings in the Wampanoag Nation, calling on this empire to return the land to the people, the People of the First Light, that together we can walk into God’s future for us all.

What you can do (the following actions are adapted from the UUA website)

 

Take Action:
People across the country are calling for action, including Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey. We urge you to support the forward movement of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (Senate Bill 2628, introduced by Sen. Markey, the passage of which would override the Trump Administration order). The bill has already passed the House with strong bipartisan support, (HR 312), but is stalled in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

In addition to advocacy for this legislation, we urge you to take the following actions in solidarity with the Mashpee Wampanoag:
  • Sign this petition calling on Congress to Pass the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act
  • Call Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: (202) 224-2551. Urge him to support the forward movement of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (Senate Bill 2628)
  • Call (202-208-7351) or email the Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, who issued the order to disestablish their reservation lands
  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask to Speak to your Senators. (Find your senator here). Urge your Senators to support the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act (Senate Bill 2628). 
Learn More:
  • Watch this great 3-minute video by Teena Pugliese to hear directly from allies and leaders in the tribe about why this matters. 
  • The Doctrine of Discovery has been the religious and legal basis of land theft, extractive capitalism, Indigenous genocide, and violent colonization. Learn more about the history of the Doctrine of Discovery—and the United Church of Christ’s resolution to repudiate this doctrine here.
  • Learn more about the history and contemporary life of the Mashpee Wampanoag on the Tribe’s official website.   
 
Rev. Marilyn Kendrix
Southern New England Conference
UCC Bridge Conference Minister
Rev. Don Remick
Southern New England Conference
UCC Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Kent Siladi
Southern New England Conference
UCC Bridge Conference Minister

Rev. Traci D. Blackmon
UCC Associate General Minister
Justice and Local Church Ministries


 

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