- Associated Press - Thursday, November 12, 2015

MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) - The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe says the federal government has taken ownership of tribal lands in Mashpee and Taunton and placed the properties into trust for the tribe’s benefit.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell said Thursday the tribe’s land is now permanently protected.

The U.S. Department of Interior announced in September it approved the tribe’s land-in-trust application. It includes about 321 acres in Mashpee and Taunton.

Tribal leaders have said the Mashpee Wampanoag will begin construction of a $500 million resort casino in Taunton next spring.

Cromwell said building the casino is more than promoting economic development. He says it’s about controlling the tribe’s destiny and preserving its culture.

The tribe received federal recognition in 2007 but traces its ancestry to the Indians who first encountered the Pilgrims.

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