Wampanoag HQ

Tribe faced deadline to complete community center or refund grant money. – Alex Elvin

Elected leaders of the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe have voted to turn away from plans to convert an unfinished community center into a gambling facility, and instead use the vacant building for its original purpose, tribe members said this week.

At a meeting last week, the tribal council of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) voted to transfer control of the building from the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corp., the tribe’s gaming arm, back to the council itself, according to tribe members familiar with the proceedings.

That step signaled the leadership’s intention to finish work on the 6,500-square-foot building and put it to use as a community center, they said.

“We are moving forward with the completion of the community center as a community center. That’s a great development,” tribal council chairman Tobias Vanderhoop told the Gazette by telephone Thursday. Mr. Vanderhoop declined to discuss the details of the meeting, saying they involve internal tribe matters. But he said the tribe is not backing away from pursuing its rights to casino gambling. “At this time, we are working on two fronts,” Mr. Vanderhoop said. “The tribe also believes there are federal [gaming] rights that are available to us or should be available to us that we are continuing to fight for [through the courts].”

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