In the 26th floor conference room of a downtown Boston office building, Tobias Jonathan Vanderhoop sat for several hours, politely answering questions put to him by a cluster of attorneys during a deposition for a federal lawsuit.

As chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), Mr. Vanderhoop is smack in the middle of a legal fight to determine whether the tribe has the legal authority to convert its community center into a class II gambling facility — essentially, an electronic bingo venue — in the face of town and commonwealth prohibitions.

Some of his responses during that July 1 deposition helped trigger a chain reaction that eventually pushed the town of Aquinnah to seek a court order to halt any work on a casino. U.S. District Judge F. Dennis Saylor 4th is scheduled to hear arguments on that motion Tuesday.

According to a transcript of the deposition publicly filed in federal court last week, Mr. Vanderhoop made it clear that the tribe felt no need to obtain the approval of either state or local government to move forward with its gaming plans.

But Mr. Vanderhoop also covered a wide range of other topics and provided a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the tribe, including some details of the gambling project.

Among his responses, Mr. Vanderhoop said:

• The tribe had formally notified the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development just a week before the deposition that the community center would no longer be used for its original purpose, which in effect means the tribe would arrange to repay two HUD grants totaling up to $1.1 million.

• The tribe has no plans “at this time” to expand beyond the community center for its Aquinnah casino project, but would not rule out possible gambling ventures off Island in southeastern Massachusetts if the opportunity presents itself.

• The tribe hired a contractor, Aquinnah Associates, about a year ago to perform the building conversion work, and eventually may seek a business partner to help operate the gambling facility.

The deposition was administered at the 60 State street offices of Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale and Dorr, the law firm representing the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association, which along with the state and the town is fighting the tribe’s casino initiative.

Felicia H. Ellsworth, a lawyer for the community association, and Ronald H. Rappaport, Aquinnah town counsel, directly asked Mr. Vanderhoop whether the tribe would seek permits for the casino.

Ms. Ellsworth: “Has the tribe sought a new building permit from the town of Aquinnah for the new use of the community center?”

Mr. Vanderhoop: “It is not required.”

Later, Mr. Rappaport asked whether the tribe’s gaming corporation, the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corporation, planned to seek town permits.

“Under the structure that’s outlined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, it’s not required,” Mr. Vanderhoop replied.

Those answers and others he gave during the deposition reflected the tribe’s general legal position that it has complied with all necessary requirements under IGRA, passed by Congress in 1988, and that both the state and town have no regulatory role in the Aquinnah casino.

The town and state counter that IGRA does not supersede, as the tribe asserts, the 1987 Settlement Act passed by Congress a year earlier. It provided more than 400 acres for the tribe but required it to comply with state and local laws, including an explicit prohibition on tribal gambling in Aquinnah.

In interviews with the Gazette the day after the deposition, both Mr. Vanderhoop and Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, the head of the tribe’s gaming corporation, said they planned to have the casino open by the end of the year, and perhaps sooner.

Tribal members on the Vineyard have begun to speak out openly against a casino. At a public meeting Saturday at the Old Town Hall, tribal elders, families with young children, town officials and others called for greater public participation in the effort to block the casino.

In the deposition, Mr. Vanderhoop said

by using the community center for another purpose, the tribe would need to refund the HUD grants used to construct the building. “We will have to close out the grant that is still open,” he said. “And then, yes, we will have to establish a repayment timeline for the funds.”

Ms. Ellsworth asked: “Will you have to repay them in full? Is that your understanding?”

Mr. Vanderhoop: “That’s my understanding.”

She asked if the tribe plans to build additional gaming facilities on Martha’s Vineyard, beyond what is planned for the community center conversion.“At this time, there are, you know, no particular plans to do so,” he said. “But it’s possible.” Responding to a similar follow-up question, Mr. Vanderhoop said, “No, not in general. No.”

That appears to rule out any gaming-related plans for a 17-acre parcel at 4 State Road, purchased in late December for $1.15 million, which abuts land with the tribal headquarters and the community center. “No,” Mr. Vanderhoop testified, “there has been no discussion of that.”

In the deposition, he provided details about the tribe’s membership and its governance structure. There are nearly 1,300 members, with about 300 living on the Island. The remainder are split between those who live elsewhere in Massachusetts and the rest “literally spread around the world.”

Because of the difficulty finding employment and affordable housing on the Island, many members live in the state’s population centers, including New Bedford, Fall River, Worcester and greater Boston, said Mr. Vanderhoop. And, he added, “as you know, I grew up just right over there,” gesturing in the general direction of Everett, where he graduated from high school.

After graduation in 1992, Mr. Vanderhoop said, he returned to Martha’s Vineyard and began working for the tribe. He earned his bachelor’s degree in community planning and management from the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and later gained a master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Two weeks after his Harvard graduation, he said, he became tribal administrator, charged with the day-to-day operations of tribal government. Then early last year, he was elected tribal chairman.

As chairman, he is one of the 11 members of the tribal council, which is elected by tribe members. (Five of the council members live off Island.)

Among his duties are running tribal council meetings and general membership meetings, representing the tribe in meetings with federal officials and serving as the “primary diplomat on behalf of the tribe” when interacting with other governments, he said.

The tribal council recently transferred the community center to the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corporation, the tribe’s gaming arm, as a necessary step toward converting the building to a casino.

“They’re a separate corporation chartered by the tribe to conduct the function of establishing a gaming facility,” Mr. Vanderhoop testified.

While the tribal government and its membership will be the beneficiary of the casino’s proceeds, he said, the gaming corporation “will take care of . . . the creation of the facility and the operations.”

The gaming corporation has five members, all of whom are appointed by the tribal council and include Mr. Vanderhoop and Mrs. Andrews-Maltais, who serves as chairman. She had been tribal chairman until early last year when Mr. Vanderhoop unseated her.

He testified that he has not seen specific plans for the renovation, which will be undertaken by Aquinnah Associates, nor did he know how much money had been spent on the project by July 1, but said it has been underwritten by “unrestricted tribal funds.”

At one point, Ms. Ellsworth asked: “Have they commenced any work?”

Mr. Vanderhoop: “Only basic renovations. I mean, just, you know, in preparation for, you know, the project going forward. But no, no construction.”

Mr. Vanderhoop has provided the sole deposition in the lawsuit before Judge Saylor. Both sides have filed motions for summary judgment, which in effect asks that the judge decide the case based on the law, short of a trial. Arguments on those motions are scheduled for August 12.

The lion’s share of questions during the deposition seemed to focus on just how much the tribe exercises jurisdiction over its land, an important issue for a tribe that invokes IGRA, especially under a federal appellate decision that involved the Narragansett tribe in Rhode Island.

Mr. Vanderhoop, in court documents, had listed tribal laws and ordinances through which he said the tribe exercises jurisdiction, which was the subject of close questioning by opposing lawyers who assert that the tribe can not show sufficient jurisdiction over the lands to trigger IGRA.

Most of the deposition questions came from Ms. Ellsworth, but Mr. Rappaport, tribe attorney Scott D. Crowell and assistant attorney general Juliana deHaan Rice had brief stints examining Mr. Vanderhoop. Lael Echo-Hawk, another lawyer representing the tribe, assisted in the deposition.