BOSTON — The chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe testified before Congress Tuesday in favor of two bills that could make it easier for the tribe to get land for a future casino.
Cedric Cromwell asked federal lawmakers to correct a Supreme Court ruling that made it more difficult for Native American tribes recognized after 1934 to get their land exempt from taxes and zoning laws.
Cromwell downplayed the tribe’s desire to build a casino, saying that putting land in federal trust has a greater purpose.
“It gives us the ability to be a true sovereign and provide sovereign services for our people — and that’s housing, that’s health care, that’s education and all the central services that are required for our tribe,” he said.
“We need federal trust lands to provide the services needed by our people, to protect our cultural and religious heritage, and to promote economic development and self-reliance.”
Cromwell says the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe does not have a single acre of sovereign land.