U.S. Takes Wampanoag Land


The United States Department of the Interior announced on March 27, 2020, that it was taking back land given to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in 2015. 

The Wampanoag Mashpee Tribe responded immediately on March 27, calling the government’s decision “cruel and … unnecessary.”  The full text is shown below.

The Mayflower Society supported the Wampanoag.  On April 3, 2020 it issued a public statement stating that it would be unconscionable for us to stand aside while the people who supported our ancestors are denied their own rightful inheritance.”  The full text is shown below. 

Wampanoag Mashpee Tribe

Statement from Charirman Cedric Cromwell
We Will Take Action to Prevent the Loss of Our Land

March 27, 2020. At  4:00 pm today — on the very day that the United States has reached a record 100,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and our Tribe is desperately struggling with responding to this devastating pandemic —  the Bureau of Indian Affairs informed me that the Secretary of the Interior has ordered that our reservation be disestablished and that our  land be taken out of trust.  Not since the termination era of the  mid-twentieth century has a Secretary taken action to disestablish a reservation.

Today’s action was cruel and it was unnecessary. The Secretary is under no court order to take our land out of trust.  He is fully aware that litigation to uphold our status as a tribe eligible for the benefits of the Indian Reorganization Act is ongoing.

It begs the question, what is driving our federal trustee’s crusade against our reservation?

Regardless of the answer, 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.

I  will continue to provide updates on this important issue in the coming days as we take action to prevent the loss of our trust status.


Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Qaqeemasq (Running Bear)

General Society of Mayflower Descendants

Statement from Governor General
Statement in Support of the Wampanoag Tribe 

Plymouth, MA (April 3, 2020) –– I am writing this statement in the immediate aftermath of the Secretary of Interior’s wrongful decision to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s Reservation.  

Four hundred years ago, a dedicated group of families now known as the Mayflower Pilgrims arrived in the New World to plant a new colony. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD) and others in the United States and abroad are commemorating this anniversary in 2020, and not just at Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims were urban European people who knew very little about farming, especially in this new continent. How did they learn these skills? Native Americans of the Wampanoag tribe showed them how to plant and raise crops that were unfamiliar to them. 

It is no exaggeration to state that the Pilgrims simply would never have survived without the help that they received from those Wampanoag people. Since the Pilgrims were the first families to locate to New England, the entire course of English settlement would have been altered without that support. 

All Americans – not just the millions who are descended from the Pilgrims – owe the Wampanoag people a debt of gratitude.

How has the US recognized the debt that we owe to the Wampanoag people? The vast lands that their tribes once ruled have been reduced to just a few hundred acres, and on Friday, March 27, 2020 the US Department of the Interior announced to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe that they would even be denied this paltry remnant. 

GSMD is on record supporting the Mashpee Wampanoag claim for reservation lands, and our organization respectfully requests that the Department of the Interior reverse its decision to rescind reservation designation for this tribe. 

It would be unconscionable for us to stand aside while the people who supported our ancestors are denied their own rightful inheritance. We fully support the tribe in its quest to hold on to its reservation.

George Garmany, Governor General
General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD)