The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) may go into the gambling business.
Last week the tribal council unanimously voted to pursue gaming as a possible means of making money. The council also decided that any future casino would be located on the Massachusetts mainland.
“This is only the preliminary,” said tribal chairman Beverly M. Wright this week. “It’s just something we are looking at, just like we’re looking at a museum.”
The tribe may pursue operation of a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988. The act requires the tribe to enter into a compact with the commonwealth.
“The tribe is committed to consulting with Governor Weld and appropriate state and local officials to implement the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in Massachusetts in a manner consistent with the terms of the act so that it benefits all citizens of the commonwealth,” said Mrs. Wright in a press release.
Over the telephone, Mrs. Wright said she wrote Governor Weld two months ago requesting a meeting to discuss a compact. She is still waiting for the governor’s reply.
The general membership of the tribe was informed of the council’s decision in Mrs. Wright’s comments in the April newsletter. “At Council meeting on April 7th it was voted unanimously that the tribe would pursue gaming options accorded under P.L. 100-497 (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act),” she wrote. “This is another step towards economic self-sufficiency.”
The tribal constitution instructs the council to pursue self-sufficiency. Gaming is one way the Gay Head Wampanoags could earn money of their own, Mrs. Wright said.
This week Mrs. Wright spoke to the Gazette from Washington, D.C., where she is working on budget matters. The tribe receives money to operate through contracts with the federal government.
“If we had our own funds, I would not be down here,” Mrs. Wright said.
If the tribe had its own money, programs like the day care assistance offered by the human services department would not have waiting lists, she said.
Mrs. Wright said she did not have a figure for how much a casino operation would generate for the tribe. She also said she didn’t know how long the planning process would take.