A modest courthouse and a fledgling police force, a housing development for American Indian families and a school where students are taught exclusively in the tribe’s ancestral language. These are the visible signs of an independent tribal nation that has grown on the famous vacation getaway of Cape Cod in recent years.
But the future of those and other developments is uncertain, as the Mashpee Wampanoag — the tribe whose ancestors broke bread with the Pilgrims nearly four centuries ago — awaits a decision from the Interior Department on whether it can continue to govern a slice of its historic lands.
The U.S. Department of Interior is reconsidering its 2015 decision to place about 300 acres into trust for the tribe. A federal judge who sided with local residents challenging the declaration sent it back to the agency for reconsideration in the final months of President Obama’s administration in 2016.
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