The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), in Massachusetts, has reportedly agreed to temporarily halt construction on its envisioned Class II electronic bingo hall for the island of Martha’s Vineyard while it appeals against a recent federal court ruling.
According to a Wednesday report from the local Vineyard Gazette newspaper, the federally-recognized tribe last month lost an action in front of Judge Frank Dennis Saylor IV from the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and will now be required to adhere to local planning laws if it is to build its hoped-for Aquinnah Cliffs gaming venue.
The newspaper reported that the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is now hopeful of getting this ruling overturned and has agreed to the provisional standstill for the controversial venue on 17-acres of land near the Massachusetts community of Aquinnah while it seeks this judgment. The halt also purportedly comes after the tribe was unexpectedly served with a cease-and-desist order by local building inspector Leonard Jason Jr amid allegations that it was proceeding with the laying of footings and foundational walls.
However, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Chairperson for the Wampanoag Tribe, reportedly told the Vineyard Gazette that this alleged work had only been carried out ‘to ensure the construction site is secured safely’ as her tribe is ‘committed to ensuring the safety of the site’.
“We are fully complying with the court order and will continue to do so pending our appeal. The tribe is discussing available options to ensure site safety with the town and we’re optimistic that we will reach an agreement soon.”
Lael Echo-Hawk, an attorney with tribal advocacy group MThirtySix PLLC, reportedly echoed these sentiments in a letter to Aquinnah lawyer Douglas Kline when he wrote that the Tribe had now ceased all construction on its envisioned gambling enterprise.
Reportedly read the letter from Echo-Hawk…
“We want to be clear that the tribe’s actions since the issuance of the final judgment have been to shut down the site and to do so in a manner that protects public safety.”