- The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has officially confirmed that the Shinnecock Nation has been granted federal recognition. What many believe to be a long overdue finding will now entitle the Shinnecock Nation to a host of federal benefits, including housing, education and health care programs, as well as allow the Nation to pursue the possibility of a future gaming facility.
Last year the federal court issued an order that the final determination be issued by June 21 of this year. Tribal leaders anxiously awaited confirmation prior to assembling the tribe for the well received announcement.
There is a 30-day grace period whereby objections to today's ruling may be filed, however, none have been forthcoming since 2009, following the preliminary findings.
Members of the Nation will now be entitled to receive federal assistance.
Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst
issued the following statement with regard to today's ruling:
"This is an historic day for our tribal neighbors and friends. And it's an important day for Native Americans across the country as another group receives the recognition it deserves and is so long overdue. I am so very pleased for the Shinnecock Nation and the opportunities that lie in store for its people as a result of this recognition. As Town Supervisor and friend of the Shinnecock Nation, I look forward to working closely with its tribal council, and the Shinnecock community as a whole, to help ensure a positive future for all of its people."
Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman
(I-Montauk), whose district encompasses the Shinnecock Indian Reservation in Southampton, commented "I look forward to continuing to work with representatives from the Shinnecock Nation, and I would like to take a moment to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Shinnecock Indian Nation on their successful battle to win federal recognition status." Schneiderman further "Wishes the Nation much success in the future as they assess all the options afforded them under their new, but long deserved, status."
Assemblyman Fred Thiele
offered "The Department of Interior has issued a decision acknowledging the Shinnecock Indian Nation as an Indian Tribe. I applaud the decision and congratulate the members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation on this long sought designation. The State of New York has recognized the Shinnecocks since 1792 and there was ever little question about the sovereignty of the Nation.
The real issue for the East End community was not recognition, but casino gaming. The matter of casino gaming at the Westwoods property in Hampton Bays was put to rest by the issuance of an injunction to the State of New York and Town of Southampton in 2007. I believe there is general agreement now that the establishment of casino gaming should be located off the reservation at a location that is both economically as well as environmentally suitable, and where the surrounding community is supportive. While I am not an advocate of casino gaming, I will certainly use my office to aid the Shinnecock Nation meet its goals in that regard.
Congressman Tim Bishop
released the following statement following the announcement from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that the Shinnecock Indian Nation has been granted formal federal recognition. A lifelong Southampton resident, Congressman Bishop has worked closely with tribal leaders in advocating for formal recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"This decision rights a historic wrong and now we begin a new chapter in our relationship with our neighbors, the Shinnecock Indian Nation. I called Tribal Chairperson Randy King, Trustees Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright
, and the Tribal Council to congratulate them and thank them for their tireless work on behalf of their people. I also offered my assistance to make sure the Shinnecock receive all the federal benefits afforded to sovereign nations who share this land. I look forward to continuing my productive work with tribal leaders to improve the standard
of living on the Shinnecock Reservation and encourage responsible, sustainable economic development which benefits our entire community."
Finally, [yesterday's] decision clears the way for the Shinnecock Nation to be eligible for a host of other benefits under federal law which they have been unfairly denied for far too long. That inequity will finally come to an end."
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.