Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Wampanoag's Leadership: a Soap Opera

In today's episode of As the Wampanoags Turn, the big, mean boss man is dealing with the aftermath of throwing out an 85 year old tribal elder. Here's a brief recap of what happened last fall:

Scene 1.

[The Wampanoag Tribal Council is meeting and discussing today's current events with visible disappointment. Camera closes in on one tribal leader, complete with blank, vacant expression. Cue the inevitable cut scene into the past, with actors who are just as blank and vacant, and hazy, harp-filled music in the background.]

[Cue overly slow and dramatic music.]

Glenn: "Don't you bring us any trouble at all, Amelia, ya here? We're going to build this casino with or without you."

Amelia: "All I want to know is where the $14 million went, Glenn, our culture is already being subverted by your casinos."

Glenn: "So you are going to give us trouble then. Well, fine. You and your son are gone - we don't want to see you in these parts anymore, or else."

End scene.

Scene 2.

Amelia and her son get a lawyer.
The Binghams have been members of the tribe's governing body, the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, since its creation in 1981, and Amelia Bingham had been named a clan mother, a position of respect in the tribe, according to the lawsuit.

But the Binghams are ardent opponents of a tribal casino, and Amelia Bingham in particular "has spoken out against gambling interests and expressed concern about big money interests corrupting tribal values," Altman said in an interview yesterday.

In January 2007, the Binghams received letters from the Tribal Council informing them that they were banned from council meetings for seven years. The "shunning order" came just days after the Binghams sued in Barnstable Superior Court to force the council to account for $14 million that the tribe had received from Herb Strather, a prominent developer of a Detroit casino.

Of course, this is just the latest episode in a long-running series. Who could forget all the wonderful episodes where the Wampanoag's former tribal leader was being investigated by the FBI, as he was later revealed to be a convicted rapist. But that's not all - federal law was allegedly violated by another tribe that's promised to seek a casino in Massachusetts if slot machines are passed (you know it's got to be bad for the Globe to write about it!) - there's nothing better than a little villainous competition. All this, so Massachusetts can own have no control over the world's largest casino along with another 2-3 of them. Just imagine how expensive the set designs would be!

Now, this same leadership - which has been proven corrupt over the casino issue time and time again - has decided to pick on a poor, old lady who was a tribal elder (can anyone get them a Day Time Emmy?). They kicked her 85 year old self out, as well as her son, just days after she spoke out against a very reasonable request - an account of where $14 million dollars went. Imagine that - not a single casino has been built and $14 million dollars is already being hushed up. The same people who won't tell Amelia Bingham where the $14 million's at are also the ones who are asking Massachusetts citizens to trust them to build and operate a fair and reputable establishment, a casino Massachusetts would have almost no regulatory power over. Massachusetts citizens should know the answer to that question - let's cancel this Soap and get on with our lives.


Ebenezer Attaquin said...

So continues the story of the Madwoman of Mashpee and her Roxbury pimp and drugdealer son Stevie...

Fiferstone said...

Ryan, thanks for the synopsis of the soap opera, your point is well, well taken. Beware the opacity of Reservation Casinos, the first victims are the tribe memebers themselves who have the temerity to ask what they got in exchage for being sold to the highest bidder Bellicose Bumpkin has also blogged on this same topic.

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

Amelia enjoys a LOT of popular support among the tribal members. At a Jan 20th meeting, attendees including the chief voted overwhelmingly to lift the shunning.

This seemingly isolated event speaks volumes about the trustworthiness of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council.

About Ryan's Take