Happy Thanksgiving from Millennial Democrats! We hope you enjoyed it; we sure did! The Democrats have retaken the House. That alone means there’s a lot more to be thankful for than there was last year.
But, as so often in our fair country, the holiday afterglow is not equally shared by all. Happiness and the American dream does not apply to everyone in America. This is more true under Donald Trump than ever before in the history of the country, and so it will come as no surprise that the first people here who celebrated Thanksgiving are once again in danger of losing what is theirs.
The Wampanoag tribe shared their food and lands with the settlers of the Mayflower, and their memory is rightly venerated on the holiday they gave us all. That makes it all the sadder to write of how the Trump administration had decided to thank them.
One 2,600-member Wampanoag tribe based in Mashpee, Massachusetts is in a situation that’s particularly dire. Cedric Cromwell, the chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, received a letter on Sept. 7 from the assistant secretary of Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior, informing him that his tribe no longer fit the legal definition of “Indian” and would be losing its reservation status.
This is the first time that land held under special status for tribes has been taken out of trust since Harry Truman’s presidency.
The Wampanoags have been laboring to secure rights to a permanent homeland since before the Revolutionary War. For the last seventy years they have been able to stay where they are. But unless Congress uses the legislature to secure the reservation or the Mashpee can get the decision tossed out in an appeals court, they will once again be virtually homeless.
That is where we come in.
Here at Millennial Democrats, we are a rapidly widening conglomerate of strong voices, voices that have come together in the sane center to make a stand. What are we standing for? Decency, common sense, and other people. Everyone is welcome to join in. All of your fights are our fights, too.
Trump has hated the Indians for years because he couldn’t successfully compete with them. His casinos were a flop, and rather than looking inward to find the reasons why he blamed tribal rights. That is who he is. Petty, mean, and small.
This incident represents the first time in nearly six decades that the government has rescinded trust land. Other tribes are watching closely, fearful that the same fate could befall them. Some tribal leaders call the Mashpee situation the first step toward a new era of terminating tribes altogether.
Termination is the notoriously stupid policy of our government toward our indigenous population. We won’t admit all the Natives are Natives, so that they can’t get any money or claim any lands rights. In the richest country in the world? With such a vast amount of land? It’s a historical eyesore. It needs to change.
We can help the Wampanoags in the same way we’ve been doing all along: by raising public awareness of the challenges they face and shining light on them. The people responsible for this are an alt-right group and a casino mogul. Sound familiar? This is not that different from what any of us are going through. It’s the same thing. We have to fight for each other.