Members of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts have filed petitions seeking the removal of the two most senior members of the Tribal Council in response to a US$500 million debt owed to Genting Malaysia.
The debt follows an ongoing legal battle over the tribe’s plans to build a casino on 321 acres of land taken into trust by the Barrack Obama administration in 2015 – a decision reversed by the Department of the Interior (DOI) last September. Genting Malaysia, the tribe’s partner in First Light Casino & Resort, has largely bankrolled that fight.
According to a report by the Cape Cod Times this week, members of the Tribal Council have filed affidavit’s with the tribe’s election committee seeking the removal of council Chairman Cedric Cromwell and Vice Chairwoman Jessie Baird. They cite the growing level of debt, lack of progress in legal developments and alleged conspiring by tribal factions to keep the pair in office.
In particular, it says of Cromwell’s 10-year tenure that the tribe has “very little to show for it; no casino, no jobs.”
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe is currently embroiled in two separate legal fights on the issue including the original suit brought by opponents of First Light Casino & Resort and a second brought by the tribe last year contesting the DOI’s reversal. Genting Malaysia revealed last year it would provide no further financial assistance.
However, both parties remain hopeful a bill that could put an end to their legal issues and green light the casino development will soon pass through the US House of Representatives.