AQUINNAH – The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) has made no decision on whether to renovate its unfinished community center into a gambling facility, the tribe’s new chairman said in an email.
Tobias Vanderhoop, who took over as tribal council chairman last month, presided over his first tribe meeting earlier this month. At that meeting, the tribe’s casino options were discussed, but no decisions were made, Vanderhoop said in an email to the Times.
“The objective of the meeting was to present information to educate our people about the work of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corporation,” Vanderhoop wrote. “All gaming options remain on the table for the Aquinnah Wampanoag people at this time and we will continue to have informational sessions for our tribal membership to keep them fully informed as our efforts progress.”
The Martha’s Vineyard-based tribe and the state are at odds over whether the tribe has any rights to a federal Indian casino. The tribe says it does and offered a recent legal opinion from the National Indian Gaming Commission as proof.
State officials contend the tribe ceded those rights in a 1987 land settlement agreement.
Gov. Deval Patrick sued the tribe in state court, but the tribe has filed a motion to have the case heard by a federal judge. Recently the state filed a motion to send the case back to state court, but no ruling has been issued.
by George Brennan