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Jun 21, 2019 11:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecock Nation Tackles Electrical Issues At Billboards

The Shinnecock billboard on the south side of Sunrise Highway. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Jun 25, 2019 11:50 AM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation’s electronic billboard along Sunrise Highway in Hampton Bays was not operating for several days last week, leaving some drivers wondering if the Nation had decided to acknowledge the temporary restraining order that the State Supreme Court issued over three weeks ago.

On Wednesday, June 19, the sign was back on, and Tribal Council Chairman Bryan Polite blamed the outage on generator issues. A generator placed adjacent to the billboard has been its source of power since operation began May 24.

This is not the first time the billboard stopped working because of electrical issues, and Mr. Polite said they are working on a more permanent power source. Wires were already installed underground and a utility pole now has to be placed, he added.

Tribal leaders and billboard contractors have been the defendants in a legal battle with the State Department of Transportation and the State of New York for nearly a month to determine whether the billboards can stay. Plaintiffs argue that the construction is happening on a state right-of-way and that the tribe needs a work permit from the DOT according to state law, which was never granted.

The defendants, on the other hand, maintain that tribal sovereignty gives them the authority for such work because the site is on Shinnecock land, making it exempt from local and state oversight.

The tribe made an effort to take the litigation to federal court, but the complaint that they filed was removed shortly after. Tribal leaders said weeks ago that an amended version would be resubmitted, but that has yet to happen.

A case before state court has been advancing, and 120 documents have been electronically filed.

Charles Kader, a member of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, based on territory along the St. Lawrence River that straddles the border of New York and Canada, said that Native American members from nations throughout New York may visit the Shinnecock in the near future to show support for the billboard project.

But because of the temporary restraining order, as well as increased attention on an ongoing leadership dispute within the Cayuga Nation, located in the Finger Lakes region, some communities that originally expressed interest in visiting are now less eager to do so, said Mr. Kader, a news curator at Akwesasne Today.

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To quote the article:

"The tribe made an effort to take the litigation to federal court, but the complaint that they filed was removed shortly after. Tribal leaders said weeks ago that an amended version would be resubmitted, but that has yet to happen. The case before state court has been advancing and 120 documents have been electronically filed."

All parties to this action would be well-advised to get this matter into federal court ASAP, where the various [complicated] federal ...more
By PBR (4940), Southampton on Jun 22, 19 8:14 AM
Long Live The Shinnecock Indian Nation !!!!!!!!!!!!
Jun 23, 19 8:44 AM appended by themarlinspike
. . . . and long live every Italian-American that was ever born !!!!!!!!!
By themarlinspike (439), Northern Hemisphere on Jun 22, 19 8:44 AM
Is it the Shinnecock’s legal position that they can build anything they choose to on the shoulder of the Sunrise Highway, even, let’s say, a 5 story condominium - if they wanted to? And that the patch of land - a shoulder of a state highway - is not subject to any state or federal oversight? That seems to be the argument here and it does not seem likely to prevail in court.
By mcreste (6), Hampton Bays on Jun 23, 19 9:45 AM
1 member liked this comment
They are running on generators because?... Has the State prevented the electric company to proceed with installing a utility pole, by court order or denial of permit?
By V.Tomanoku (775), southampton on Jun 23, 19 10:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton