These are our lands, these are the lands of our ancestors, and these will be the lands of our grandchildren.
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 -- Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Chairman Cedric Cromwell
Last November, our Thanksgiving post called everyone's attention to a potential crisis at Mashpee with respect to their reservation and sovereignty. As we noted then, several judicial decisions (including one at the United States Supreme Court in 2009) and potential action by the Department of the Interior threatened the community's reservation trust lands and tribal sovereignty. Land in trust is a special status in which the federal government holds the title to the property and allows the tribe to make its own decisions on how to develop the tax-exempt property and its natural resources.
This past Friday, on March 27th, Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt ordered that the Mashpee's 321-acre reservation be taken out of trust and disestablished to no longer be considered sovereign land.
While it does not affect the tribe's federal recognition, the directive weakens the tribe's capacity to provide vital educational, housing, and emergency services to the community, and protect its traditional lands and cultural resources. It also jeopardized funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
H.R. 375, a bipartisan bill to reaffirm the Mashpee reservation and restore fair-mindedness to all tribal nations in the land-into-trust process, passed in the House of Representatives last year with strong bipartisan support. Its companion bill (S. 2808) remains stalled from Senate inaction.
On March 30th, the Mashpee requested the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to issue an emergency restraining order to prevent the Department of the Interior from taking the reservation out of trust. The Court indicated it will order the federal government refrain from disestablishing the tribe’s reservation until it rules on the motion for a preliminary injunction.
The Mashpee have a long connection to their land and a history of petitioning for redress when their rights or sovereignty were under attack.
You can explore a selection of the Mashpee community's rich documentary history and read about several centuries of Mashpee people, places, and events by clicking here.
For more on the present Mashpee crisis, including information on a MoveOn petition to Congress, visit the Mashpee Wampanoag website and see articles here and here.
The Land is Sacred image is courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag website. The 18th century map of Mashpee is from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library's Ezra Stiles Collection.
Some Unfortunate News
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
The Native Northeast Research Collaborative (formerly the Yale Indian Papers Project) has been at Yale University since 2003, where it has established itself as one of the country's leading Native digital humanities endeavors, recognized as a national model for innovative intercultural cooperation. (You can see our accomplishments in our recent post.)
From 2010 to 2019, our work was financed by generous grants from the NEH, NHPRC, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, CLIR, and matching funds from Yale University. This year, however, the Provost's Office notified us that Yale would no longer contribute to the project, and that we would have to raise the matching funds ourselves for any subsequent grant application.
During the summer, we proposed building a consortium of universities and institutions to share the benefits and the costs of the project and requested bridge funding from Yale. We presented the University with letters of support from 8 tribal governments, 6 Native scholars, numerous Yale students, faculty, staff, alumni, and scholars in the field.
Nonetheless, the Provost, with the approval of the President, denied our request for continued funding or the ability to provide matching support for grant applications. The Provost said while he recognized the project had provided benefits for Yale faculty and students, scholars, and for the University’s reputation among Native American groups, given all the other requests for funding, the project did not meet Yale's qualifications for funding priorities.
On September 30th, Toby and I closed our office at the Yale Divinity School and left the University.
As we seek to find a new institutional home, we will also continue to explore federal and foundational support.
Many of our tribal community partners have written to us asking about the availability and sustainability of the materials we have collaboratively worked on. On that front, we have good news. The Native Northeast Portal will continue to be available to provide communities and the public access to the thousands of records it contains. We will be adding new documents to it but at a slower rate.
We look forward to continuing our outreach to Native and scholarly communities and providing access to primary source historical materials about Native people, places, and events in the greater Southern new England area.
Paul and Toby
Welcome to the Native Northeast Research Collaborative
In the past few months, you may have noticed something different when you accessed our website or document archives, the Native Northeast Portal.
After close to two decades as the Yale Indian Papers Project, we've changed our name and our website, but not our mission as a digital humanities and social justice project.
To recover and provide greater access to the history of the Indigenous people(s) of the Atlantic Northeast for the purposes of research, teaching, scholarly analysis, storytelling, and community-based projects.
The Native Northeast Research Collaborative better captures the nature and scope of the work we do. And it's less ambiguous. We're not about papers of Native people at Yale, nor do we edit only Native manuscripts from Yale.
Rather, this is what we are about. Here are our accomplishments so far:
New England Indigenous Community: Inclusion & Network Building
Academic Community: Pedagogical Outreach
Global Academic Community: Tribally-Mediated Scholarly Resources
For our older Op-Ed Articles, go to the right side panel and click "Before October 2019". For our new ones, stay tuned.
A blog intended to be a discussion point about people, places, things, and events relating to Native communities in the American Northeast.
Images: Nancy Ransom (Nipmuc) NNRC Collection; Zaccheus Nonesuch (Niantic) Indian & Colonial Research Center; Ebenezer Bassett (Schaghticoke) Wikipedia
Before October 2019