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U.S. Government Unilaterally Dissolves Mashpee Wampanoag Reservation: ‘Modern Colonization’

Colonialism is the brutal act of greed taking from indigenous people on their own land. Unfortunately, not much has changed in the Western Hemisphere since 1492.

The latest came just yesterday, as the United States Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt ordered the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s reservation “disestablished” and its lands taken out of trust.

Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell confessed bewilderment about the reason for the federal government’s crusade against the tribe, while also affirming a long-standing commitment to resist and fight for their lands in a post on the tribe’s website:

“…we the People of the First Light have lived here since before there was a Secretary of the Interior, since before there was a State of Massachusetts, since before the Pilgrims arrived 400 years ago. We have survived, we will continue to survive. These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren. This Administration has come and it will go. But we will be here, always. And we will not rest until we are treated equally with other federally recognized tribes and the status of our reservation is confirmed.”

Taking Native Lands Is Top of the U.S. Agenda

Colonialism has always been about greed and taking. The wealthy settlers have never stopped trying to take all they can from native lands. This particular administration has been no different, and especially helpful to the cause, especially as it eyeballs all the energy reserves buried under native lands.

Native American reservations cover just 2 percent of the United States, but they may contain about a fifth of the nation’s oil and gas, along with vast coal reserves. The Trump administration has commissioned a coalition of advisors to take away as much of that land as possible for private use.

Trump’s Web Of Self-Interests Against Mashpee Wampanoag

If that wasn’t bad enough, the casino-mogul president is particularly interested in stopping the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from building a casino just 18 miles from Rhode Island where Twin Rivers has two casinos riddled with Trump loyalists, lobbyists and investors. You can read all about this intricate connection between Trump and Twin Rivers here if you really want to.

A decade old Court decision Carcieri v. Salazar established that the federal government cannot take land into trust for tribes that weren’t “under federal jurisdiction” in the year 1934.

House Bill 312 was heading through with little opposition to settle the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s land issues once and for all, that is until Trump tweeted.

“Republicans shouldn’t vote for H.R. 312, a special interest casino Bill, backed by Elizabeth (Pocahontas) Warren. It is unfair and doesn’t treat Native Americans equally!”

Indigenous People Are Continually Endangered

Long story short, we’ve already read this book. Derrick Jensen put is most succinctly in Premise Two in his book Endgame:

PREMISE TWO: Traditional communities do not often voluntarily give up or sell the resources on which their communities are based until their communities have been destroyed. They also do not willingly allow their landbases to be damaged so that other resources—gold, oil, and so on—can be extracted. It follows that those who want the resources will do what they can to destroy traditional communities.

Regardless of how you might feel about the construction of a casino, native people have been subjected to genocide; the robbing of their lands upon which their ancestors lived for millenia; and to the continual dismantling of their culture and murder of their people up to this present moment. Instead of in any way making reconciliation for these past wrongs, the U.S. continues the trampling of native people.

The issue of reservations and trust status has been a contention of radical indigenous people for a long time. In Hawaii, for example, the Kanaka (indigenous) community is divided over the issue of official U.S. government recognition. Some in the community wish to gain access to funding for health care, housing, education, and so on. Others see these as petty bribes. They contend that the Hawaiian nation was unjustly overthrown by the U.S. government, and that accepting “tribal” status would only legitimize an ongoing occupation that is entirely illegal and unjustified.

This is just one story from one day among many stories among many years. These conditions have never been tolerable, and they aren’t tolerable today. Colonization is not something from the past. It is an ongoing, everyday process. This is but one of the many reasons why we must build a real resistance.

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