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May 27, 2009 12:39 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecocks reach settlement that could bring federal recognition by 2010

May 27, 2009 12:39 PM

The Shinnecock Indian Nation and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs reached a settlement in federal court this week that could earn the tribe federal recognition—an official designation necessary for opening a gaming facility—by the middle of 2010.

According to the settlement, brokered in the federal court in Central Islip and agreed to on Tuesday before Judge Joseph Bianco, the BIA must issue its proposed finding on the Nation’s three-decades-old application for federal recognition by December 15, 2009. If there are no objections to the finding, the BIA would then have to issue a final determination on the tribe’s status by mid-June of 2010.

If granted federal recognition, the tribe would be immediately eligible to open a limited gambling facility on tribal lands, and it would open the door to negotiations with New York State that could allow them to operate a much bigger facility. Federal recognition would also make the tribe eligible for a variety of federal aid and assistance grants.

It would also vindicate the Shinnecocks, one of the best documented Native American tribes in the country, in their long battle to be placed on the list of federally recognized tribes.

“As a result of this settlement, our more than 30-year quest for federal recognition is finally within our grasp,” Tribal Trustees Chairman Randy King said in a statement released by the tribe on Wednesday morning. “We look forward to reclaiming our rightful place on this list, which will enable us to qualify for federal programs long denied our people. To be denied the ability to partner with the federal government on housing, health care, educational, and economic justice initiatives is no longer tolerable.”

The tribe has claimed, in one of several lawsuits it has been involved with in the last six years, that it was inexplicably and wrongly removed from informal federal lists of recognized tribes in the 1940s, despite centuries of friendly, and well documented, relations between the tribe and the New York State and local governments.

The settlement reached on Tuesday addresses just one of six claims in a lawsuit brought by the Shinnecocks in 2006 against the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the federal Department of the Interior. The suit claimed, in part, that BIA officials have unfairly held up the tribe’s federal recognition application, dealt with the Shinneoccks differently than they have other tribes, even stonewalled the tribe and concealed recommendations on the tribe’s status from their own lawyers as far back as the 1970s.

In 2007, Judge Bianco ruled against the tribe in a lawsuit brought by the Town of Southampton, barring the tribe from ever using a 79-acre parcel in Hampton Bays for a gambling facility because it cannot be considered tribal lands. A previous judge in the case, Judge Thomas C. Platt, had issued a ruling in 2003 granting the tribe federal recognition immediately—a ruling the BIA has flatly refused to recognize.

Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Nedra Darling could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.

The Shinnecocks began their federal recognition application in 1976, the year the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was adopted, allowing tribes to pursue gaming as a source of economic self-sufficiency. The application was amended in 1998 and again in 2006.

In 2001, the tribe began clearing land in Hampton Bays for what they said would be a small gaming facility as a precursor to a larger, full-fledged casino and convention center, despite lacking federal recognition. The work was stopped by a lawsuit filed on by the Town of Southampton. Judge Bianco ruled in 2007 that the tribe could not consider the Hampton Bays parcel tribal lands and could not operate a gaming facility there.

The tribe has said it does not wish to develop its 800-acre reservation on Shinnecock Neck and that it is seeking a more suitable site, either elsewhere in Suffolk County, at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, or somewhere in metropolitan New York.

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Why not put a casino in Southampton? If you want to put it in MY backyard and don't see a problem... put it in your own backyard! But we all know the Southamptonites defending the casino in HB would never let it go in Southampton.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on May 27, 09 4:26 PM
Let them operate a larger casino in western Long Island. If they open one on tribal lands I'm very concerned about the pollution of the bays increasing.
By PrivateerMatt (390), Weesuck Creek , EQ on May 27, 09 4:49 PM
As if there isn't enough crime,pollution and traffic out here already in the summers now we could potentially have year round legalized gambling in some form or another. It boggles my mind as to who thinks this is actually a good idea. It's such a bad and scary idea even the always money hungry Shinnecocks don't want it on their own reservation.....
By pmofo (37), East Quogue on May 27, 09 5:07 PM
They were here long before we were,
They should be able to do what other tribes in this nation have done if they so choose.
PS: the land in hampton bays belongs to the Shinnecock Tribe and therefore is part of the rez.
By Boomer (6), southampton on May 27, 09 5:47 PM
The mentality out here is unbelievable!! Most of you want Gay marriages. Yet a casino that would give revenue to schools, our town, and create many jobs is criticized!! Before you complain, take a look at the revenue California and Connecticut receive from their casinos and how mush is donated to do good!! How can you say the "money hungry Shinnecocks" Most of them are living in poverty!!! They deserve better!! Don't worry about the casinos. Take a look at all the drug arrests in all the bars ...more
By bayview (160), Southampton on May 27, 09 6:06 PM
I bet they push for Gabreski
2 lane highway, airport, and train station nearby
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on May 27, 09 7:26 PM
The county or state should trade the tribe their 79 acres in Hamptons Bays, for part of the old Pilgrim State or King's Park state hospitals, or the old Parr Meadows abandoned horse track on the William Floyd Pky, for their casino. The Hampton Bays land can then made into parkland, and a further west casino site has better access to major highways and closer to NY City.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on May 27, 09 7:50 PM
If you go to the south of France you will see that every town along the shore has a small casino. It's no big deal, just a few thousand square feet that has slots and maybe some simple table games like 21. We build these mega gambling palaces to suck every dollar out of the stupidest Americans and that's the type of gambling facility that causes a problem. Let them build on the parcel in Hampton Bays. Then refuse to build any roads to it. Let them bring in the suckers on a hovercraft from New ...more
By davidf (325), hampton bays on May 27, 09 9:33 PM
I think the pro's outweigh the cons. Congrats to the Shinnecock Nation, they have lived in poverty for way too long. It's Poker time!
By landarchi (33), Southampton on May 27, 09 11:31 PM
Well INS we are ALL on some indiginous peoples land. You willing to give up your home? Anyway, who cares what is built here anyway, this whole area has gone straight to hell . The idea for federal recognition is not just to build casinos. Its to also enable the people to have access to federal loans and other monies to help stabilize the way of life up there. Yes , many on the res live in poverty. Yet there is the extreme of the very wealthy there too, who have no problem employing non res members ...more
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on May 28, 09 9:18 AM
And no they don't want you on their land, unless you bring money.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on May 28, 09 9:20 AM
They should have gotten recognition a long time ago. Congrats.

And gaming and a high-end resort town can mesh. For example, Saratoga Springs is as nice or nicer than Southampton, and they have a "Racino" with two horse tracks and slots.

By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on May 28, 09 9:48 AM
Wait, won't a casino bring drugs, prostitution and crime? Oh my thats already here...America's love affair will buffet meals, diabetes and cigarettes. Paints a pretty picture for the east end.
By ride the truth wave (125), southampton on May 28, 09 11:37 AM
Yaaay for the federal recognition!

Boooo for the casino
By C Law (354), Water Mill on May 28, 09 11:45 AM
Congrats Shinnecocks! Hopefully everyone will come to the table with some well thought ideas on how to move forward with a casino if that is their wishes. Personally, I think the State should have allowed this a long time ago. Look at all the money heading across the sound on a daily basis..it could have been kept right in our own backyards.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on May 28, 09 1:28 PM
Just because you have a permit for a gun doesn't mean it's ok to shoot someone. All these examples of other casinos have logistical and demographic issues far different from ours. Do some research on other casinos and their impact on the surrounding areas.
As for the "Cute little casinos" again, look at the history of casinos in their areas. THEY ALL EXPAND!
Also, can someone tell me why a casino is the only way out of poverty for the shinnecocks? That seems insulting.
By Soundview (89), Hampton bays on May 28, 09 1:31 PM
Get ready for 100-200 busses driving through the western Hamptons every day and hundreds of tired, drunk motorists on the roads 24/7. Every weekend will be like Memorial Day. Jobs? All low-paying service jobs that will attract thousands of new immigrants.
By hillstationrd (6), Southampton on May 28, 09 1:35 PM
As anyone noticed that casinos in this economy aren't doing too well. You can go to Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Atlantic City, Vegas and notice the dwindling numbers..people do not have too much disposable income these days. I doubt there will be a quick turn around with all the spending the government is doing...we will be too busy being tax slaves to be heading the a casino. So stop worrying about what has not happened yet and let's hope some cmmon sense is applied to how they move forward.
By BeachGal (72), Hampton Bays on May 28, 09 3:52 PM
Congrats to the Shinnecock! Recognition is well deserved.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on May 28, 09 4:07 PM
By fdny7318 (60), Water Mill on May 28, 09 4:55 PM
The tidal wave of money from the Shinnecock Indian casino will overwhelm democracy in Southampton Town just as has the tidal wave of income from housing contractors. If you think that no one in town hall cares about you now, wait until billions of dollars in Indian/casino manager/casino investor loot is available to these pragmatically corruptible folks. There will be only three categories of residents in the Town: Predator, Prey, and In The Way.

The Casino will be located further west ...more
By highhatsize (4217), East Quogue on May 28, 09 10:54 PM
The only ones who make money off casinos are the corporations that build and run it. The Shinnecock will lease their rights to the corporates and will have no say, the town will have no say. These big conglomorates build and run casinos all over the world. And they are the ones who benefit.
By hillstationrd (6), Southampton on May 29, 09 10:53 AM
Thats because these big conglomerates promise the moon and stars and dangle the prospect of financial freedom to people who feel there is no other way. But after years of being told a casino is the only way by their elders the Shinnecocks will take any deal.
By squeaky (291), hampton bays on May 29, 09 11:20 AM
INS, can you tell me what sort of configuration you have in mind for the exit?
By Terry (380), Southampton on May 30, 09 5:16 PM
Casinos? Take a look two blocks inland at Atlantic City sometime, or the areas surrounding Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun.

Crime! More crime! Don't be seduced by the promise of money rolling in! Look at the costs incurred, never mind the traffic. The infrastructure of Eastern Long Island simply won't support a casino!

This is foolish, people, and it has nothing to do with the recognition of a Shinnecock Nation.

Actually, one of my biggest nightmares is that after all the NIMBY ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on May 31, 09 1:45 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Walt (292), Southampton on May 31, 09 1:54 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Terry (380), Southampton on May 31, 09 7:03 PM