Dear Tribal Community,
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has notified the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that our Tribal-State Compact will need to be further negotiated before it can be approved. While disappointing, this possibility was anticipated in our agreement with the Commonwealth, which requires that we return to the negotiating table immediately to address the outstanding issues in the Compact and come to a revised agreement. We believe that these issues can be resolved quickly and cooperatively, and the Compact can be re-submitted to the BIA for swift action.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Commonwealth have negotiated respectfully and collaboratively to come to an initial agreement, and we will continue to negotiate in that same spirit. It is critical to the economic development plans of our Tribe, the City of Taunton and the surrounding region, and the Commonwealth as a whole that we reach an agreement as soon as possible. Our destination resort casino in Taunton will create thousands of construction jobs and permanent careers, and will energize the regional economy.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has met all requirements of the Expanded Gaming Act, including the acquisition of land in Taunton, the negotiation of an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City, the overwhelming passage of a popular referendum, and the negotiation of a Compact by July 31. In addition, our application for land in trust is currently under review, our Gaming Ordinance was approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission, scoping sessions for both federal and state environmental reviews have been completed, and we have made an initial payment of $1.5 million to the City of Taunton as part of our agreement with the City.
Let me be clear, the Tribal-State Compact and our land in trust application are two totally separate processes with no bearing on each other. We are very pleased with the progression of our land in trust application and continue to work toward a positive determination.
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has the inevitable right to conduct gaming in our ancestral homeland. We look forward to immediately getting back to work with the Commonwealth on a revised Compact so that there will be no delay in bringing good jobs and revenue to our Tribe and the Commonwealth.
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)