Mashpee Tribe v. Town of Mashpee
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
447 F. Supp. 940 (1978)
The Town of Mashpee (town) (defendant) is a community in Massachusetts. The town was created as an Indian plantation using land designated by the General Court of Plymouth Colony. The land was originally held in common by the Mashpee Tribe (Mashpee) (plaintiff). In 1842, an act was passed to allocate 60-acre lots of the common land to each member of the Mashpee community. However, because the land was part of a grant to the Mashpee, the land could not be freely sold. In 1869, the governor of Massachusetts ended guardianship over all Indians and granted all Indians—including the Mashpee—full citizenship of the United States. Thus, in 1869, the Mashpee community was granted authority to sell Mashpee land. During the next 100 years, the Mashpee retained ownership of most of the land, but some members of the tribe sold land to developers in order to make a profit. Gradually, these small sales reduced the acreage of land owned by the Mashpee and interfered with the Mashpee’s ability to freely access prior hunting and fishing grounds. In other words, the sales of land interfered with the Mashpee’s ability to subsist. In the 1970s, the Mashpee sued the town under the Nonintercourse Act (Act), 25 U.S.C. § 177, which prohibits the conveyance of land from an Indian tribe, unless made by treaty or convention under the United States Constitution. The Mashpee argued that the Mashpee land was sold in violation of the Act. The town disputed whether the Mashpee was actually a “tribe” under the Act. After reviewing the Mashpee’s status on several key historical dates, a jury concluded that the Mashpee was not an Indian tribe under the Act. The Town moved for judgment of dismissal. The Mashpee opposed the motion.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Skinner, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 174,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.