The Thanksgiving holiday is a bitter reminder of a history that attempted to extinguish our culture and broken promises that have inflicted a tremendous amount of damage on our Tribal Nation. Today, we continue to feel the harm of federal policies that have fallen short of the promise to protect our land.

Past generations of Wampanoag men and women were forced to carry this fight alone. Today, we are thankful to have fierce advocates in Washington that recognize the immediate need to secure our tribal lands – land required to begin the process of healing the damage inflicted over the past 400 years. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Ed Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating continue to be warriors for our people here in the Commonwealth and Washington DC. There is comfort in knowing that we may continue to count on them to fight by our side until our right to our reservation lands is fully confirmed.

There’s also a tremendous amount of comfort in President Biden and Secretary Deb Haaland that have reminded us on several occasions that they will continue to stand with Mashpee.

Yesterday, I received a letter from President Biden that reinforced his administration’s support of our Tribe. The letter came on the heels of President Biden’s trip to Wampanoag land, where he will spend Thanksgiving with his family.

In the letter, the President stated without question his gratitude for our contributions to this Nation. “As President, my Administration is committed to working in partnership with you to honor Tribal sovereignty and strengthen our government-to-government relationship.”

We still have work to do and will continue to ask President Biden, Secretary Deb Haaland, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating to continue fighting with urgency to recognize our Tribal sovereignty. Our Tribe continues to feel the pain of 400 years of injustice and cannot begin the healing process until the small fraction of our ancestral homeland we seek today is fully protected.

I want to also thank each of our Tribal citizens for persevering through these difficult times. Tomorrow is a National Day of Mourning for our people. Let’s remember the courageous actions of our ancestors that withstood slavery, sickness, war, and cultural genocide to ensure we could remain a people connected to this land. Thank you for never compromising and standing strong as Mashpee Wampanoag.

Ahapây,

Brian Weeden, Chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe