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The Wampanoag were the Native American tribe
encountered by the early colonists when they arrived to
the shores of Wampanoag lands. The tribal nation,
however, was not to receive federal recognition until
last year. The struggle for tribal recognition faced
claims by some that the 1,461 members of the tribe
were not ‘’real’’ Indians—a view that has been responsible
for efforts to erase the Wampanoag and their history,
by relegating them into the shadows of myth.
In 2007, the Mashpee Wampanoag became the
564th federally recognized tribe in the U.S. After four
centuries of confronting genocide, colonization, the
deadening impact of assimilation, and being slowly
pushed off their lands, the federal government finally
approved the petition of the Mashpee Wampanoag survivors
as worthy of recognition as a sovereign Indian
nation. This federal recognition is not only a matter of
regaining tribal sovereignty, but is also tied to the
Mashpee Wampanoag’s right to access millions of dollars
in federal aid for housing, health care and education
In 1976, the Mashpee Wampanoag filed a lawsuit to
recover land the tribe says was taken from them illegally.
The suit was dismissed in 1978 when a federal judge
ruled the Wampanoag did not have official tribal status.
With the now newly acquired tribal recognition, the
Mashpee Wampanoag’s efforts to recover their ancestral
lands has been renewed.

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