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On March 27th United States Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt ordered that the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe disestablish its tribe’s reservation. Clean Water Action stands with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in their fight to govern their ancestral homelands, condemns any attempts for the United States Federal Government to de-legitimize tribal sovereignty and acknowledges the existential threat that this poses for all Native people who have fought tirelessly to reclaim stolen land. 

After a multi-decade battle to gain federal recognition, the tribe was finally given federal recognition in 2007. The fact  that the original people of this land have to gain recognition from the United States Government in the first place is deeply unjust and a continuation of settler colonialism. To have this status taken away by the current President after it has already been finally recognized is a dangerous return to the termination era of the 1950’s where 113 tribes were disestablished in the name of assimilation and for the purpose of capturing their land’s resources to fuel the American economy. 

As an environmental organization, we recognize that the history of colonization and imperialism is inseparable from the degradation of the land and overuse of natural resources to fuel corporate greed. We see it as no surprise that the same administration that has pushed racist nationalism just as hard as it has pushed for the rights of corporate polluters at the expense of the land and water is returning to the same tactics of colonial land control to disempower the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and threaten other tribes’ rights to self governance. 

Clean Water Action recognizes that Native people were the original stewards of this land and that the larger environmental movement must be allied and in solidarity with indigenous resistance. We would like to lift up Native activists like Winona LaDuke, Jasilyn Charger, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Naelyn Pike, Autumn Peltier, the Standing Rock water protectors, and countless other Native leaders who continue to fight to protect the world’s most precious resources. 

Since the Mashpee Wampanoag regained the right to self-governance; they have instituted a clean-up of illegal dump sites of both Tribe and Town land in Mashpee, created “Preserving our Homelands”, a youth environmental science camp “that combines Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and Western conventional science concepts to teach Mashpee Wampanoag tribal middle school youth about their local environment”, and dedicated time and resources to track the New England Cottontail which has now become a rare species of rabbit. 

Clean Water Action Massachusetts #standswithMashpee in their fight to retain their land and the right to govern it. Learn more about how to support this movement here.