The Trump administration has revoked the reservation status of land inhabited by a Native American tribe in Massachusetts for over 12,000 years. In March, the US Department of the Interior ordered that 321 acres of land inhabited by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe be removed from the federal trust and the reservation disestablished. This deprived the tribe of their independent judicial system, police force, and local school, and stripped the tribe of their governance over the land where they had been living for over 12,000 years.

In response, 18 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer asking to reinstate the tribe’s land federal status.

Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell took particular issue with the timing of the action. “The steps being taken right now — in the middle of a nationwide pandemic — to disestablish our reservation and take our land out of trust has created a crisis on top of a crisis. Our land is sacred. It’s where our people receive health services. It’s where our children attend our language immersion school. It’s where we are building houses for our citizens. Taking our land is a direct attack on our culture and our way of living.”