Expert Affirms MashpeeIndian Tribal Status

An Indian tribe exists in Mashpee, the president of the American Anthropological Society testified Tuesday in the Mashpee Wamponoag Indian suit in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Dr. Walter C. Sturtevant, who is also a curator at the Smithsonian Institute, corroborated the testimony of two earlier witnesses, saying the Mashpee tribe fulfills five criteria for tribal status, Ann Gillmore, an associate attorney representing the Indians, said yesterday.

"His testimony was critical. He is one of the foremost ethnologists on North American Indians," Gillmore added.

The Indians are seeking title to 13,000 acres of land they claim was taken from them in violation of a 1790 Federal statute. If the jury rules the Mashpees are a tribe, a seperate trial must be held to decide the Indians' land claims.

Ellsworth Oakley, a member of the Mashpee tribe, said yesterday. "This is nothing but a technicality. I think it's a lot of crap that we have to prove that we're a tribe."


James D. St. Clair, former lawyer for Richard Nixon representing the town of Mashpee and Mashpee land owners, declined to comment on recent testimony.

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