Mashpee Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell was in a good mood as he addressed a crowd gathered to celebrate something he said many didn’t think was possible.

“Against all adversity, against, as the media would call obstacles, I like to call it a fun process we went through, with a lot of unique challenges, we made it and we did it together,” Cromwell said.

In September, the federal government agreed to acquire 151 acres in Taunton into trust for the tribe, so they could build a casino there. The tribe also got 170 acres of sovereign land in Mashpee for tribal governmental, cultural and conservation purposes.

Some of the project, which will be known as the First Light Resort and Casino is set to open by the summer of 2017. The ultimate plans include 3,000 slot machines, 150 table games and 410 poker tables, as well as 3 hotels and a water park. Taunton Mayor Tom Hoye spoke about the impact all that will have on his city.

“It means over 8 million dollars a year in revenue," he said. "It means 20 new police officers, 20 firefighters on a recurring basis, which we badly need. This is just a terrific opportunity for the city of Taunton and for Southeastern Massachusetts.”

The Taunton casino will be part of an increasingly crowded gambling landscape in the state. The state gaming commission has issued licenses to MGM to build a commercial casino in Springfield, which has been delayed, and to Wynn to build one in Everett. That project is being held up by an environmental appeal. And the Gaming Commission is set to decide by the end of this month whether to issue a license for a casino in Brockton, just 30 miles from First Light in Taunton.

“ I think people kind of forgot about us at some point along the way," Mayor Hoye said. "We hear about Springfield. We’ve seen the barbs and the raspberries in Everett. We hear about Brockton. But guess who’s going to be first to market?” he asked, to the cheers of the crowd.

The tribe’s compact with Massachusetts says that 21.5 percent of their gambling revenue would go to the state. But if a Brockton casino does open, the Wampanoags would be off the hook for those payments.

The Wampanoag casino still faces a legal challenge by community members in Taunton who oppose the project. That lawsuit is being funded in part by the developers who hope to build the commercial casino just up the road in Brockton.

Cromwell said the groundbreaking will change their minds of critics.

“When they see our people rising, people of the first light, when they see the city of Taunton just glowing as an emblem of economic development and what a tribe and what a city can do together to create prosperity to create jobs to lift all people so every voice can rise and sing together. That’s what it’s all about.”

As if to put an exclamation mark on the fact that the Mashpee Wampanoags really are going to build on their sovereign land in Taunton, as soon as he finished talking, Chairman Cromwell got started clearing the property by getting in an excavator and demolishing a building on the property.

One of the tribal members watching the demolition was 75-year-old Phyllis Lopes, who’s Native American name is Lady Slipper.

“It’s a flower. That looks just like a pink lady slipper. They’re almost extinct.”

Lopes says she grew up on a reservation in Westport, near New Bedford, and as a child she always felt different from other kids at school. Today, this groundbreaking means a lot to her.

“I honestly want to cry just talking about.. I know how I was brought up and how it was invested in us to say you’re native American. But I never thought I’d see this day and be proud of it. And I am. I’m totally proud of it.”