Published at 01:11h, December 12, 2022
Updated December 12, 2022 at 03:01h.
Plymouth, Mass. police The Mashpee Enterprise reports the police have arrested the Mashpee Wampanoag chairman with four thefts from the local museum.
Brian Weeden above denies knowing about the theft. Since then, the artifacts were returned to the museum. After two failed attempts, the new Mashpee chair promises to bring back integrity. (Image: YouTube)
Brian Weeden, 30, who is also the head of the tribe’s gaming commission, and another man, Phillip C. Hicks Jr, also 30, are alleged to have taken two bulrush mats and two bearskin rugs from the Plimoth Patuxet Museums. They were shown in a Mashpee-style domed house, called a wetu. The total value of the items is approximately $10K.
Weeden was elected in May 2021 with a promise to “restore integrity” to the tribe. This was following the indictment by federal authorities of Cedric Cromwell (for tax evasion and bribery) as its former chair.
Cromwell was ultimately found guilty of taking bribes for the First Light casino resort worth $1 billion, which the tribe tried to construct in Taunton Mass over the years.
Rachael Rollers, US District attorney for the District of Massachusetts, wrote Monday that Cromwell should pay repartee to the tribe for the reputational harm he had caused.
She cited “distrust in potential lenders for the [casino] project, impeding the Tribe’s ability to obtain financing for economic development.”
Cromwell’s predecessor, Glenn Marshall, was also charged with corruption. Three years was his sentence for embezzling 400K from Mashpee.
Enterprise has seen a redacted version of the police report. It shows that the items claimed to have been taken by Weeden & Hicks are now back at the museum. The report doesn’t list the specific charges against the pair.
Security officers at the museum saw three people loading the artifacts onto a Chevrolet Traverse. It was tracked to Weeden.
The Museum of Humanity
Enterprise was not informed by Mashpee Chair and Enterprise has declined to comment.
Plimoth Patuxet is a popular “living history” museum featuring historical re-enactors. They portray 17th-century life in Plymouth, the settlement founded by the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower and interacted with the Wampanoag people at the “first Thanksgiving.”
Some members of the tribe have complained the museum hasn’t fulfilled its promise of being a “bi-cultural” enterprise that equally tells the story of both settlers and indigenous people.
Critics also claim the museum has failed to properly care for Native exhibits and isn’t hiring or retaining enough tribal members.
Long Wait for First Light
Legal challenges led to the First Light Casino project being halted. It got a boost in December last year when the Biden Administration reaffirmed the tribe’s sovereignty and right to reservation land that includes the casino site.
Later in the month, discussions between the City of Taunton and the tribe’s lawyers suggested that the project could be redirected and that Genting Malaysian casino company would provide its financial support.
Weeden did not provide any official information or a timeline, and seems to be very cautious about the project.