What follows is an edited version of a letter sent to Laura Silber, coordinator for the Coalition to Create a Martha’s Vineyard Housing Bank.

On March 19 the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard branch voted to support the housing bank proposal and to also implore the housing bank coalition to incorporate the two Wampanoag tribes on Martha’s Vineyard into the governance of structure of the housing bank.

The work the coalition has accomplished in the last 16 months is something to be in awe of. You have gotten all six towns to agree on language for a town warrant. The NAACP branch commends you for that; however, you are missing the Island’s two Wampanoag tribes.

It is my understanding that the coalition was not aware that the Chappaquiddick Wampanoag Tribe even existed. They do, and the branch implores the coalition to contact their tribal council. It is our understanding you are already in contact with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah).

At the start of every NAACP Martha’s Vineyard branch meeting, we read aloud a land acknowledgement statement, which says: “The NAACP Martha’s Vineyard branch recognizes and honors the many generations of Wôpanâak people who have lived and continue to be sustained in this territory for more than 10,000 years. We acknowledge Indigenous Peoples as the traditional stewards of the land and the enduring relationship that exists between them and their traditional territories. The land on which we sit is the traditional territory of the Wampanoag Nation. We acknowledge the painful history of genocide and forced occupation of their territory, and we honor and respect the many diverse Indigenous people connected to this land on which we gather.”

The branch believes that both the Aquinnah and Chappaquiddick tribes should be incorporated into the governance structure of the housing bank.

At a recent meeting, Mr. Abrams, an executive committee member of the housing bank coalition, stated that it would not be possible in incorporate the tribe into the housing bank governance. This is not true. In fact, most recently, Rep. Dylan Fernandes sponsored a bill to add a seat to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission to be appointed by the tribal government of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head Aquinnah.

I commend him for getting the one seat, but we can and we must do better. The legislative process that lies ahead for the housing bank will likely result in a bill being watered down, not added to. To that end, the housing coalition should grant influence to the two Wampanoag tribes now and not wait for Beacon Hill to fix issues that are unique to our Island. We need to get this right before asking the state legislature what they will accept.

Given that the town meeting votes are one of many future votes to make the housing bank a reality, it is our hope that you take our feedback seriously. Wampanoag tribes of Martha’s Vineyard must be a part of future land use planning on the Island.

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday

Oak Bluffs

The writer is president of the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard branch.