The Shinnecock Nation has been federally recognised as a “tribe” as of 10/5/2010. The Bureau of Indian Affairs gave the tribe the news on this past Friday, but confirmed it publicly on Tuesday. The Shinnecock Indian Nation website has posted a statement on their home page: “Process complete October 1st, 2010. Shinnecock Indian Nation 565th federally recognised Tribe in the US.”
This comes after two attempts to foil the tribe’s status, the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs and a small group from the Montaukett tribe. Both challenges were out down by a judge of the Interior Board of Indian Appeals.
Also factoring into the equation was a statement by the tribe that they were interested in opening three different casinos on Long Island. Newsday.com reported: “that federal recognition will grant the tribe the right to open a Class II gaming facility on its own tribal lands, which would allow video lottery terminals, but not table games. The tribe has agreements with political leaders not to target locations east of County Road 104 in Westhampton in exchange for help opening casinos on land elsewhere on Long Island.”The recognition that he tribe has received now opens the doors for detailed talks about the locations of the intended casinos.
All of this brings one to wonder if the Unkechaug of the Poospatuck Reservation will attempt federal recognition. They already have state recognition as The Poospatuck. Chief Harry Wallace of Poospatuck suggested that the lack of application for federal recognition was a statement of the group that suggest that they already claim sovereignty instead of relying upon a decision by a board or the US government. Another stumbling block is the war waged upon the Poospatuck for taxes supposedly owed to the state. Some plain red signs with white lettering hung in a few tobacco store windows on the reservation declare: “Sovereignty First.”
The Unkechaug of Poospatuck are closely related to both the Shinneock and Montaukett tribes. It is hard to understand why one group has been recognised, and others have not. Either way, it is a positive notion that might spread throughout the nation: give the Indian Tribes their due. It’s been far too long.