Tribe gets infusion of federal funds

Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chair of the tribal council, praised federal funding the tribe is receiving. -Stacey Rupolo

It’s been a good couple of weeks for the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). Not only is the tribe getting a seat at the table with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, but a federal spending bill approved March 15 will send $2.6 million to the tribe — $800,000 to tie the tribe’s community center into a wastewater treatment plant, and $1.8 million for affordable housing.

The funding was announced by U.S. Sen. Edward Markey’s office in an email Friday, and is part of $82.7 million Markey was able to secure in congressional direct spending for the Bay State, according to his office. 

Tribal council chairwoman Cheryl Andrews-Maltais issued a statement praising the federal funding. “This was such wonderful news. We’re just thrilled that the special funding we requested was approved. While there were so many worthwhile projects needing funding, and only so much money to go around, Senator Warren and Senator Markey, along with the assistance from Representative Keating on the House side, worked tirelessly to ensure that our request remained in the Omnibus Bill,” Andrews-Maltais said. “As we all know, affordable housing is virtually nonexistent on the Island. So many families are being forced to move from the Island due to the lack of, or the affordability of, housing. So being able to build some affordable housing units for our tribal community will go a long way. In addition to the funds for housing, we also received funding to connect our Tribal Administration/Government Services building to our wastewater treatment plant. Both of these projects have been part of our overall strategic plan and, until now, funding for such projects seemed out of reach, or would take more years to save enough money to accomplish these goals. With this extra funding, we will be able to better meet the overall needs of our tribal community.”