Congress hearing testimony on bill protecting tribe’s land

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts tribe that could be the first in decades to lose its federally-designated reservation lands is making its case before Congress.

The House Committee on Natural Resources hears testimony Tuesday on legislation that would enshrine the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe’s 321-acre reservation into law.

The reservation was designated by the U.S. Department of Interior in 2015, but the agency is now reviewing the move in a case that’s being closely watched by tribes across the country.

The review was prompted by a federal judge who sided with local residents challenging the basis for the agency’s decision in 2016.

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Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell is among those expected to testify. Dozens of tribes have written letters in support of the legislation, which is sponsored by Massachusetts Congressman William Keating.

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