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Wampanoag chief has mixed feelings on casino bid

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MASHPEE, Mass. (AP) — In the centuries since its ancestors greeted the Pilgrims in 1620, the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has struggled to overcome financial hardship, recover lost land and even reclaim its nearly forgotten language.

The tribe's 92-year-old traditional chief, Vernon "Silent Drum" Lopez, says much has changed since the days of his youth when members mostly lived off the land. He supports the tribal council's bid for a $500 million casino in Taunton, but acknowledges some mixed emotions.

He says there are pros and cons to casinos and worries about the potential for debt or corruption.

Council chairman Cedric Cromwell says a casino would be an economic boost for the tribe, which recently opened a new headquarters in Mashpee and operates an oyster farm at nearby Popponesset Bay.

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