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Sep 29, 2009 4:34 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Governor supports Shinnecock Indian Nation in federal appeal

Sep 29, 2009 4:34 PM

Governor David Paterson this week threw the weight of his office behind the Shinnecock Indian Nation’s bid for federal recognition, and a potentially lucrative Indian gaming development.

The governor penned a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, voicing his support for the federal recognition application. In the short letter, Mr. Paterson pointed to the tribe’s more than 200 years of documented government-to-government relations with New York State and well documented history of sovereignty on the East End, dating back to the time of the earliest English settlements on Long Island.

“To say that federal recognition of the Shinnecock is long overdue would be an understatement,” the governor wrote. “It is my understanding that the Shinnecock [Nation] has included in its petition over 40,000 pages of documentation demonstrating the attributes of the federally-recognized Indian Tribe, including evidence of self-governance that dates back to 1641.”

The Shinnecock Tribal Trustees applauded the governor’s support and said federal recognition would open the door for the tribe to secure adequate housing, expanded health care and economic prosperity.

“New York State Governor David A. Paterson is a true leader who has demonstrated that he understands the history of the Shinnecock people and our government-to-government relationship with New York State,” tribal leaders said in a statement issued on Thursday. “We have survived along these shores of Long Island for over 10,000 years, and we are the living representatives of generations of proud Shinnecock Indians. Governor Paterson also recognizes that in order for the Shinnecock Indian Nation to have a fair chance at economic opportunity and a better quality of life that the time has come for us join the ranks of federally recognized tribes.”

There was no mention in either the governor’s letter or the Nation’s statement of the tribe’s well-publicized plans for a gaming facility. Federal recognition is the gate key to gaming for Native American tribes, though it is not a guarantee. The Shinnecocks and their billionaire Detroit financial backers have been exploring options for gaming facilities around the state in anticipation of federal recognition being granted sometime next year.

The tribe has said it would like to be the gaming contractor for a planned casino at the Aquaduct Racetrack in Queens, or at the Belmont Racetrack in Nassau County. The tribe has also been considering pursuing a development somewhere in Suffolk County or even at one of several planned casino sites upstate.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ordered the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, to expedite the Shinnecocks’ federal recognition application. The BIA must issue its preliminary ruling by December. If the tribe receives preliminary approval of its application, final approval could be expected by mid-2010, according to the BIA’s timetable.

In 2004, another federal judge had granted the tribe federal recognition by court order but the BIA maintained that the tribe must still navigate the review process.

Governor Paterson had met with Shinnecock leaders three years ago, when he was Elliot Spitzer’s lieutenant governor, to discuss their future gaming plans. At the time, the tribe was embroiled in a years-long lawsuit with Southampton Town over whether a 79-acre parcel the tribe owns in Hampton Bays could be used to develop a future casino. The judge ultimately ruled that the tribe could not use the parcel, known as Westwoods, for gaming.

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If the Shinnecocks are going to operate a casino in Queens, or upstate, why would they have any reason to stick around in Southampton? Their 10,000 years of history on the east end will come to an abrupt halt, as they move operations to where the slot machine action is.

I hate gambling...
By nicole (96), Hampton Bays on Sep 26, 09 12:26 AM
this governor is so unpopular that it probably would've been more advantageous for the casino effort if he had gone against it. in the meantime, they are doing quite well with the illegal sales of tobacco wholesale and over the internet.
By hamptons surfer (79), southampton on Sep 26, 09 7:29 AM
This governor's support has no weight . Everyone knows he was not elected and will be out of office soon. He has no power at all. In fact, the fake indians would have been better off without his support.
By Walt (292), Southampton on Sep 26, 09 11:44 AM
now that the shinnecock indian nation is getting closer to recognition every politician is going to start riding there coatails big bucks involved for the state of new york
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Sep 26, 09 7:27 PM
The Governor was also came out in support of the eruv in Westhampton Beach, and that wet well, didn't it?
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Sep 26, 09 7:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
As popular as the Gov is now, they'd be better off without him, he's about as popular as Custer at Little Big Horn !
By Bill in Riverhead (190), Riverhead on Sep 26, 09 9:15 PM
Breaking news! He also supports "Pigs flying" taxing "Candy land" and turning the" Cow that jumped over the moon" into the state bird...
By Soundview (89), Hampton bays on Sep 28, 09 12:25 PM
The fake Indians... WOW...ignorance and bigotry are still alive and well in the village of Southampton. I suppose its easier to express these kinds of sentiments when you are sitting at home behind a keyboard. Most cowards wouldnt dare voice that sentitment in front of a memeber of the nation. Walt would you please explain what a real vs fake Indian is? The members of the Shinnecock nation can track their ancestry back to before your ancestors had pot to pee or a window to throw it out of in this ...more
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 30, 09 9:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
Voices of Paumonok - Elizabeth Thunder Bird Haile - Wednesday September 30 at 12:30pm

"0n the east end of Long Island we say the biggest business is real estate.
Well, I'm asking you where did they get all this real estate anyway?"

WPKN 89.5 / WPKM 88.7 / wpkn.org

present Voices of Paumonok

the first program in a new series
features Shinnecock Elder Elizabeth Thunder Bird Haile

In a talk given in April 2009 at the Southampton Democratic ...more
By Tony Ernst (11), Southampton on Sep 30, 09 10:00 AM
1 member liked this comment
Paterson is a clown. Its all about the money. I hope they build the casino next door to his house. Nothing against the ShInnecock Indians but Indian Casinos are the biggest scam and are loopholes to feed off of peoples vices. I guess the indians figure they have been screwed for so long why not screw the blue hairs out of their social security checks as they pump money down the slots.
By razza5350 (1911), East Hampton on Sep 30, 09 10:30 AM
You guys better get used to the Shinnecock tribe gaining national recognition. They are going to gain it as I predicted at the time when they were being poltically lynched by every politician (Democrat and Republican) in NYS.

Their case for federal recognition is too strong to beat legally which all the politicians who vehemently opposed them chose to disregard or simply failed to acknowledge. I personally don't think that all the money casinos can bring will make them happy. However, ...more
By Integrity Party Guy (26), Riverhead on Oct 1, 09 7:17 PM
None of this nonsense about Paterson and gaming really matters. The point here is that the Shinnecock should have been federally recognized YEARS ago. This process began for the tribe in 1979 - that is atrocious. Especially because of the long, well-documented relationship between the tribe and the English, Southampton Town, NYS, etc as an autonomous entity... Many tribes have achieved recognition on far less. The sticking point is blood quantum - and this is not aided by the multi-decade backlog ...more
By LJ (9), out east on Dec 15, 09 10:00 AM
I really don't understand people like Frank Wheeler and the stolen culture he promotes. Native American Indian tribes gave the most ultimate sacrifice for this Country, and even into this new millennium, they still continue to suffer from this investment into people who ascend from slave nation european lineages like Frank Wheeler. Europeans until 1776 were slaves of European kings, at least Indians nations like the Shinnecock were truly Free Men and Women of dignity.

If it was not for ...more
Dec 16, 09 2:49 PM appended by xatiannorthsea
"inevitably when [won] the revolt against the Crown"
By xatiannorthsea (16), southampton on Dec 16, 09 2:49 PM
Since you have copied and pasted your response in another comment thread, I'll do the same:

xatiannorthsea: "I really don't understand people like Frank Wheeler and the stolen culture he promotes."

And for the life of me I cannot understand how reading-challenged people like xatiannorthsea are allowed near an internet connection!

What "stolen culture" have I promoted?

xatiannorthsea: "people who ascend from slave nation european lineages like Frank Wheeler."

My ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Dec 16, 09 3:30 PM