Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey has authored a bill that would provide a “fix” to the controversial 2009 U.S. Supreme Court’s Carcieri v. Salazar ruling, which prevents Indian tribes recognized after 1934 from putting land into trust. It derives that ruling from the language of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
The bill is similar to a bill that he sponsored several years ago. Markey is a ranking member of the House subcommittee that has responsibility for Native American matters.
If Congress were to pass such a bill, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe would be one of many tribes that could benefit. The Mashpees want to put land in Taunton into trust. The Carcieri ruling is a major stumbling block to that goal since the landless Mashpees were recognized in 2007, although they maintain that they have been under federal jurisdiction for centuries, and even cite an agreement between the tribe and King George III of Great Britain to argue that they were recognized before the United States was a nation.
Such seeming trivia is actually of vital importance to the tribe, since the law the Massachusetts legislature passed last year that authorizes three casino resorts and a slots parlor set aside the license in Region C (the southeastern gaming zone) for an Indian tribe that could meet the requirements of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act as well as successfully negotiate a gaming compact with the state. If the tribe cannot meet the requirements, the license could be made available to commercial bidders.