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People of the Stony Shore
July 11, 2010 8:23 AM   Subscribe

The Shinnecocks have been a fixture in New York State for centuries — their beads became the wampum Dutch settlers used as money in the colonies — but the US Department of Interior never included them on its official list of Native American tribes. That all changed on June 14th. Almost four centuries since their first contact with Europeans and after a 32-year court battle, the 1,300 member impoverished Shinnecock Native American Nation was formally recognised by the US federal government. The tribe's tiny, 750-acre reservation in the middle of the Hamptons (home and summer playground to some the country's wealthiest Americans,) is now a semi-sovereign nation, allowing them to apply for Federal funding to help them build schools, health centers and to set up their own police force, as well as the right to open a casino.

New York State has formally recognized the Shinnecocks since 1792.
"In order to qualify the Shinnecock literally had to prove that they existed, submitting thousands of pages of tribal records.

Many believe that the lengthy and painful process that the Shinnecock have been forced to go through is explained by the tribe's position bang in the middle of the Hamptons, the string of Long Island towns where rich New Yorkers come to party away the summers. The difference between Shinnecock land and the rest of the Hamptons is jarring. The reservation, signalled by a line of stalls selling cheap cigarettes, sits side by side with the town of Southampton, heart of the Hamptons scene.

On the reservation, some roads are dusty and unpaved. The houses can be ramshackle. Unemployment can be a problem for many Shinnecock members. Outside it on the streets of Southampton, stretch limos and black Lexus prowl down streets lined with shops selling Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg. A real estate agent on Southampton's main street happily advertises a local house going for $12.2m.

Pictures from last year's Pow Wow.

Background on the Shinnecocks.
posted by zarq (77 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Something interesting found while researching this post: The Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center & Museum played a significant role in the attempt to get the World Trade Center site included on the National Register of Historic Places after 9/11. Among other things, they noted that
"New York area Indian tribes have long been represented among steel workers, and many Native Americans (who tend not to fear heights) helped both to build the twin towers and then to tear down many of the remains when the site was being cleared. Thus, the Museum observed that inclusion of the site in the Registry would honor not only the victims of the terrorist attacks but also the contributions of Native Americans to that site and that area over hundreds of years."

posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


One last link:
As far as the records show, no one has spoken Shinnecock or Unkechaug, languages of Long Island’s Indian tribes, for nearly 200 years. Now Stony Brook University and two of the Indian nations are initiating a joint project to revive these extinct tongues, using old documents like a vocabulary list that Thomas Jefferson wrote during a visit in 1791.

posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


But will gay Shinnecock's be allowed to marry? Or, more interestingly, will they be able to conduct legally binding marriages of American citizens? I wonder why I've never heard of that idea before...the U.S. recognizes marriages licensed in foreign countries, right?
posted by spicynuts at 8:34 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zarq, yet another great post. The Shinnecock are finally going to come back into their own. They've been extremely closed off to almost everyone for years, for good reason, impoverished, just barely getting by. The pow-wow is pretty cool, though.

One of the other interesting thing about this group is how black many appear. Quite a number of freed blacks married into the tribe in the 19th Century and so there are some morons who challenge their tribal claims because they appear black (Yes, there's no logic to this.) In the book "Amangansett" are several references to them, including a short account of a judge who denied their land claims because he couldn't "see" any native peoples in the area, even though the courtroom was filled with them.
posted by etaoin at 8:44 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is all great -- except the casino. If they open a casino on that land I'll have a hard time believing this was done for the sake of cultural heritage and not simply as a get-rich-quick scheme...
posted by chasing at 8:49 AM on July 11, 2010


("Get-rich-quick scheme" may be the wrong choice of words. I'm all for these people gaining recognition for their tribe and resources for school and health centers. I'm absolutely against more casinos being built, for any reason. And I fear that's where this is going to lead...)
posted by chasing at 8:53 AM on July 11, 2010


and many Native Americans (who tend not to fear heights)

why
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2010


The taxpayers need to supply the tribe with money so that they can build casinos and become very wealthy? In my neck of the woods, investors from the private sector did the groundwork, made a bundle, and now the tribe is doing quite well.
posted by Postroad at 8:59 AM on July 11, 2010


and many Native Americans (who tend not to fear heights)

why

A lot of people think Mohawks aren’t afraid of heights; that’s not true. We have as much fear as the next guy. The difference is that we deal with it better. We also have the experience of the old timers to follow and the responsibility to lead the younger guys. There’s pride in ‘walking iron.’” —Kyle Karonhiaktatie Beauvais (Mohawk, Kahnawake)
Also, there's this from the Straight Dope.
posted by zarq at 9:03 AM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Very interesting Zarq, thanks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the reservation I visited in South Dakota, unemployment is over 90%. I have absolutely no problem with reservations opening casinos.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 AM on July 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


Many believe that the lengthy and painful process that the Shinnecock have been forced to go through is explained by the tribe's position bang in the middle of the Hamptons, the string of Long Island towns where rich New Yorkers come to party away the summers.

One can only imagine the heated email exchanges.
posted by mediareport at 9:31 AM on July 11, 2010


If they open a casino on that land I'll have a hard time believing this was done for the sake of cultural heritage and not simply as a get-rich-quick scheme...

Why shouldn't they be able to get rich quick (whether it's spent on health centers and schools or not)? Isn't that the American way?
posted by blucevalo at 9:33 AM on July 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Etaoin, thank you. :)

Quite a number of freed blacks married into the tribe in the 19th Century and so there are some morons who challenge their tribal claims because they appear black

I didn't know that! It's interesting, and rather sad.
posted by zarq at 9:43 AM on July 11, 2010


furiousxgeorge, you're very welcome! :)
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on July 11, 2010


This is all great -- except the casino.

Yeah, that was exactly the problem; the NYT article in the "formally" link explores the casino issues:

Now comes the next big challenge: serious negotiations over a casino in a region filled with competing gambling interests. With federal recognition, the tribe can build a casino on its 800-acre reservation in Southampton, N.Y., but the tribe, the state and local officials would prefer to find another location, in New York City or its suburbs, for the casino. That would mean plunging into a thicket of complex federal law, court rulings and political considerations.

Still, there are powerful motivations to help the tribe locate its casino anywhere but the Hamptons, where traffic is already choked by tourists in the summer. The state has been negotiating with the tribe in anticipation of the recognition, which appeared likely after an initial ruling in December...

With federal recognition, the tribe can build a Class II casino on its land: the casino could have thousands of video slot machines, but no table games with dealers. The tribe wants to build a more lucrative Class III casino, which could have table games, somewhere else; the state would share in the revenue...

Far more difficult for the tribe will be the federal legislation required to allow them to build an off-reservation casino, an issue that has been controversial nationally. There is also likely to be well-financed opposition to a full-blown casino in a market saturated with gambling options...

posted by mediareport at 9:45 AM on July 11, 2010


I wonder why I've never heard of that idea before...the U.S. recognizes marriages licensed in foreign countries, right?

That's a fascinating question. Looks like they wouldn't be federally recognized.
posted by zarq at 9:47 AM on July 11, 2010


is now a semi-sovereign nation, allowing them to apply for Federal funding to help them build schools, health centers and to set up their own police force, as well as the right to open a casino.

Or a nuclear waste dump.
posted by Brian B. at 9:49 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of casinos. I live in a town that has one smack on the main drag. However, when white people get all, "Why should we help them get rich?" they really don't understand the desperate circumstances that exist on First Nations reservations in this country.

Native Americans are not children. And they are sovereign nations. We don't get to decide what ways they decide to help the collective have enough money to build those health centers and schools. (Hint: it comes from casino money.)
posted by RedEmma at 10:14 AM on July 11, 2010 [11 favorites]


What a shame.
Another step in the wrong direction.
posted by madajb at 10:30 AM on July 11, 2010


What a shame.
Another step in the wrong direction.


What? Can you elaborate?
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on July 11, 2010


When I read this post, before looking at the links, my first thought was that the wealthy in the Hamptons will have an absolute fit if they open a casino.
posted by annsunny at 10:41 AM on July 11, 2010


Let them have all the fits they want. That's the way the cookie crumbles.
posted by blucevalo at 11:23 AM on July 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Casinos are one of the few resources Indians have. Schools, health care centers, cultural heritage centers, all of those require funds. Have you ever been to a reservation? It takes a lot of cash to improve living conditions.

I love to see Indian casinos. It's time to get a little of what was taken back.
posted by elsietheeel at 11:37 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


But will gay Shinnecock's be allowed to marry? Or, more interestingly, will they be able to conduct legally binding marriages of American citizens? I wonder why I've never heard of that idea before...the U.S. recognizes marriages licensed in foreign countries, right?

It hasn't been decided yet and may become a test for sovereignty.

At least with the Coquilles. Alas, the Cherokee Nation blew their opportunity for added relevancy. Especially sorrowful, too, considering the history of Cherokee Two-Spirit people.
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:50 AM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Which is less palatable? Casino next door, or returning land?
posted by rodgerd at 11:52 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


So their land is recognized as sovereign now? Now they are allowed to build a casino... But not a class III casino?

Is that like telling an 18 year old they are a full adult, but they can't drink alcohol?

They can build a casino, but only a shitty one?
posted by el io at 12:06 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a Long Island resident, I doubt very much they'll put the casino in the Hamptons. The traffic would be impossible, just impossible. There are already tons of ideas and businesses and politicians starting to jockey for input and find a better place to put it.

The poorest Americans I've ever met were on a reservation in South Dakota. It is long past the time that we allow these people to have at least some say about their fate. Karma, or something.
posted by etaoin at 12:13 PM on July 11, 2010


We have a few indian casinos in Connecticut and they do very well. of course they are a bit pissed that new ones open elsewhere, not far away, because there has to be a drain on potential customers. Casinos kick in some tax revenue to the state, and they provide employment. The nice thing about them: the elderly no longer need hang out in malls and can spend their social security on the slot machines. This is nice for the young restless unemployed who now have the malls free and clear of annoying old people.
posted by Postroad at 12:37 PM on July 11, 2010


The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, as summarized on Wikipedia, for reference.

This report from the Minnesota Legislature has more interesting details along with some Minnesota-specific info.

It seems pretty unlikely that the Shinnecocks could or would be prevented from putting a "class III casino" (meaning, more than just a bingo hall) on their own land, comparable to casinos elsewhere in New York. It looks like the question is whether they could put a casino in a more favorable location off-reservation, maybe by having the land put in trust for the tribe or through some other agreement. That's how casinos get placed in urban areas or on major freeways instead of in the middle of nowhere on the lands that tribes were left with in the 1800s.

I'm not familiar with the finer points of geography on Long Island, but I have a hunch that if the Shinnecocks managed an agreement to build a casino right on an expressway, that would keep the traffic from nickel-slot-grannies from clogging exclusive neighborhoods in the Hamptons.
posted by gimonca at 12:47 PM on July 11, 2010


The problem with Long Island geography is in its name--it's a longish island with very few traffic options. The Long Island Expressway has been known as the world's largest parking lot for years, and the few parallel roads could never handle it. This would be a disaster in that area, an absolute disaster. No one there, rich or poor, would be able to move. The poor traffic flow was a factor in the decision to shut down the Shoreham nuclear power plant before it even opened in the 1980s, and it's only gotten worse since. There are alternatives, however and I suspect one of them will win recognition.
posted by etaoin at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This would be a disaster in that area, an absolute disaster. No one there, rich or poor, would be able to move.

Absolutely right. The main road in and out of the Hamptons is Route 27 which eventually becomes Montauk Highway. (Known to those of us who live further West as Sunrise Highway.) It's mostly a two lane road throughout the Hamptons, (which briefly widens to four lanes in spots) with legendary summer traffic jams.
posted by zarq at 1:50 PM on July 11, 2010


This is good to hear. Not quite as good as the Canadian PM's apology to First Americans, but good.

@chasing: "I'll have a hard time believing this was done for the sake of cultural heritage and not simply as a get-rich-quick scheme..."

The court case started in 1978. Long before any Indian casinos were rolling in cash. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed in 1988. Before then there was a little bingo.

Anyway, gaming money has allowed many tribes who'd been thieved and regulated into deep poverty to recover, to make self-determination a reality, to buy back the lands that were connived away. It's ill-considered to resent them for overcoming centuries of theft, mistreatment and terrible bigotry.
posted by Twang at 2:42 PM on July 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Fuck yeah.

And waiting several hundred years for the return of a tiny portion of your tribal resources ain't gettin' rich quick. The part-time Hamptonians deserve the casino they're going to hate. Anyway, it will quickly become a staple of the local economy, which ain't so great for the full timers actually. I have news for you: it's not just tribes that have become dependent on gambling wealth where tribes have built casinos.

It's just a tiny little scrap of justice, but damn I'm sure it tastes good with fry bread.

The Alaska Native people I work with have oil money, and live too far from population centers (and in an area inaccessible by road) to be able to benefit from gambling. They've done fairly well from controlling surface rights to the oil rich lands of Alaska's North Slope. But just today (and FPP'd on MeFi) is the news that BP intends to sell its Prudhoe Bay leases to cover the gulf spill cleanup costs.

Fuck just taking land back. Let's talk about mineral rights now.

For those seriously interested in the Indian gaming controversies of the last couple of decades, there is a marvelous scholar working on this stuff, Jessica Catellino at UCLA. Here are a few of her recent publications, with *High Stakes* highly recommended.

2010 The Double Bind of American Indian Need-Based Sovereignty. Cultural Anthropology 25(2):235-62. PDF

2009 Fungibility: Florida Seminole Casino Dividends and the Fiscal Politics of Indigeneity. American Anthropologist 111(2):190-200. PDF

2008 High Stakes: Florida Seminole Gaming and Sovereignty. Duke University Press.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:57 PM on July 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


What? Can you elaborate?

We should be working towards eliminating the reservation system and the pseudo-sovereignty of the various indian "nations" not encouraging more of the same.
posted by madajb at 4:05 PM on July 11, 2010


We should be working towards eliminating the reservation system and the pseudo-sovereignty of the various indian "nations" not encouraging more of the same.

Why and how, exactly?
posted by vers at 4:18 PM on July 11, 2010


Do please elaborate further . . . there are at least two radically different ways that comment could be interpreted.

The steady expansion of Native American sovereignty *is* "working towards eliminating the reservation system." Maybe not fast enough, but we're finally seeing some progress after 4 centuries of active genocide and about 75 years or so of turning our backs on the crimes of our nations ("our"=any European country at all, the US, Australia, Canada, Russia, and most Latin American nations).

Surely you don't see incremental victories within the hegemonic framework as undermining the overthrow of the hegemony itself? That would put you in the company of a very small number of Native activists. The struggle for Native rights has moved past that stage, for the most part, born as it was of such a total imbalance in power that it made sense to refuse to participate in politics at all.

Among the many Native American political activists I know, very, very few want to overthrow or even separate completely from the United States as such. (I am speaking strictly in terms of the US context here.) In fact, it's their patriotism that makes them so persistent in their insistence that the US live up to its treaties, stated political principles, and pretension to stand for justice.

Indians helped build the US, often with their blood (Alaska and Pacific Islander Natives too). They have a right to share in its wealth and participate in its governance.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:30 PM on July 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


How are you suppose to build just societies on stolen land?
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:42 PM on July 11, 2010


Why and how, exactly?

According to wikipedia, the reservation is approximately 750 acres with about 500 people living on it.
I'm sure an equitable division could be made so that each of those people is deeded what would work out to be about 1.5 acres.

I imagine there would be some problems with unscrupulous developers trying to get their hands on the windfall, so perhaps a government program to advise the new landowners on the best course of action.
Advise, mind you, none of this "held in trust" nonsense. The individual would have all the decision making power.
posted by madajb at 4:59 PM on July 11, 2010


I think "just society" as you mean it is a utopian abstraction.

Absolutely right it's stolen land. Very few modern nations can claim to have been formed otherwise. That excuses nothing, and justice certainly entails making things as right as possible.

My point is that very few Native people I know would prefer to set the clock back to 1492, even if it could be done. Until the modern era, stealing land with impunity was just what people did. The concept of "justice" that would call this into question was, unfortunately, virtually co-birthed with the modern nation states that were built on stolen land, substantially using slave labor (similar set of issues) -- basically, people stolen from their land instead of the other way around. Unwinding it all would be a sweet thing, *if it were even remotely possible.*

But since it is not, and since the political process and the legal process have gradually begun to bend toward a recognition of the genocidal history involved here, tossing the baby (modest but real gains in sovereignty and control of resources, based on principles that will continue to apply going forward) out with the bathwater (the entire sordid history of genocide and dispossession) is, like most forms of radicalism, a fine way to indulge the privilege of being able to take a purely theoretical position. That is a privilege of both the very powerful (or do you intend to give up the land on which you live, Samuel?) and the totally disempowered.

Thankfully, Native Americans are no longer so disempowered, and they had to fight hard to get to this point. Likewise, those of us who intellectually advocate for justice for Native people (generally, with the great privilege of a substantial education) have other options than talking trash we can't back up personally, namely, getting into the mud and joining the fight on the side of Native people in ways that leverage our privilege for more justice.

Realistic political ambition, backed by realistic strategy and actual legal and economic muscle, beats sitting around spinning radical fantasies any day of the week.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:01 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


i hope they go the GAMBLING BOAT route which Ive heard for years to be one of the options various NYC/NYS tribes have been lobbying for. am all for them.

if white people are not going to give them their lands back or have the cities and states pay-them back for the land they took from their ancestors, then let them have riverboat casinos.
posted by liza at 5:01 PM on July 11, 2010


Wait, madjb, you would deny the tribe's right to collectively own its newly secured territory on the grounds that private property law is a better framework for protecting it?

Private property law is what justified the genocide of Native Americans. It's no different from the ideology of "reservations."
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:05 PM on July 11, 2010


Indians helped build the US, often with their blood (Alaska and Pacific Islander Natives too). They have a right to share in its wealth and participate in its governance.

Of course they did, and of course they should.
If I implied otherwise it was not my intention.
posted by madajb at 5:07 PM on July 11, 2010


Wait, madjb, you would deny the tribe's right to collectively own its newly secured territory on the grounds that private property law is a better framework for protecting it?

If they'd like to put it in a non-profit trust or create a corporate owner or some other existing legal entity, I have no problem with that.
posted by madajb at 5:10 PM on July 11, 2010


So the problem is with the word "reservation," then? If so, I'm entirely with you.

My Alaska Native friends are very proud that they still live, and subsistence hunt, on their traditional lands (almost all of them, thanks to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, a model for how this stuff ought to be done). They abhor the idea of a "reservation" too.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:17 PM on July 11, 2010


PS -- grew up on Long Island. Widening roads as the place developed to the East was never a problem in working-class areas. I'm sure a thriving casino will mean everyone benefits from a new 4-lane highway through the Hamptons.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:27 PM on July 11, 2010


So the problem is with the word "reservation," then? If so, I'm entirely with you.

Not just the word, but the idea.
The whole paternalistic, "you can do this, but not that because you don't really own the land and aren't really sovereign even though we all pretend you are" concept is bothersome to me.

Either A) Accept current reality, which is that indian nations are no more an independent entity than I am, dissolve the reservations and distribute the assets equitably (with, as I said above, guidance to help people not get ripped off) or B) Make the reservations truly independent nations with borders, customs and full control.

Since I don't think B is either feasible or desirable, then A seems the only way to go.
This decisions seems to a step backwards from inclusion and seems set to only perpetuate the second-class status of the people involved.
posted by madajb at 5:29 PM on July 11, 2010


You hear the irony, man?

The tribes will distribute their collective resources as they see fit. They don't require our approval.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:39 PM on July 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Held in trust" means that title to the land is held by the Federal government, and control of the land is given to the tribe, so that the real estate can meet the definition of "Indian lands". More.
posted by gimonca at 5:52 PM on July 11, 2010


And more at Findlaw.
posted by gimonca at 5:55 PM on July 11, 2010


which is that indian nations are no more an independent entity than I am

Actually, a sovereign tribe is a good deal more "sovereign" than an individual person. Just try opening a casino in your backyard or opening your own police department. So this is sort of an absurd statement. Indeed, sovereign Indian nations can and do police their own borders, and can kick people off their land, regulate the use of their land differently than the surrounding counties, etc. So the hyperbole creates a straw man here.

ALL sovereignty is a matter of recognition, not just control. Sovereignty only exists when everyone "pretends" it does. Of course, it's nice to be able to challenge those who won't with the force of arms, which takes us to the "control" part. But most people don't submit to passport control at borders, for example, because they'd be shot if they didn't bother to stop at the guard booth, but because the guard booth is there and the guard is wearing a uniform with a flag on it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:08 PM on July 11, 2010


Where the highway issue becomes stuck is that any road expansion would have to be done outside the Shinnecock lands. If there were no cooperation between, say, the state and the Shinnecock, there'd be no way to get the traffic onto their property and then the casino or anything else they'd want to do would fail. So it's essential that the local governments and the tribe work together.

Zarg, for some reason (probably the Over the Rainbow posting), made me think you were in Hawaii. Howdy, neighbor!

For the record, I'm not fond of casinos, but it is a proven route to success for some tribes though not nearly as widespread as it sometimes seen. I hope this is just the start of their revival.
posted by etaoin at 6:10 PM on July 11, 2010


I can't understand the whole "casinos are OK if they're on Indian land" thing. Is it just a legal oddity that means nothing can be done about them? If so, then why aren't they free from other State or federal laws - could someone get away without paying State taxes or workers' compensation, or produce drugs and alcohol without a license? I seriously don't understand the reasoning here.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:18 PM on July 11, 2010


Indian tribes have roughly similar status to states -- they aren't subject to the laws of other states, but they are subject to federal law. A tribe can choose to allow gambling or selling firecrackers because those are state regulated, but can't break worker's comp laws or produce drugs because those are federally regulated.

I was kind of hoping someone here would make some kind of horribly racist comment so we could demolish them. Sadly it looks like people who hate Indians hate residents of the Hamptons even more.
posted by miyabo at 7:07 PM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


The simplified version is: native people sign a treaty with the U.S. government, the land becomes part of the United States, some of the land becomes a 'reservation' for the native people. Example.

Reservation lands are typically exempt from state laws: enrolled Indians on reservations might not pay state income tax, for example. Before casinos, cheap cigarettes were an income producer on some reservations, since they were exempt from state taxes. Reservation lands are still subject to federal law. In some situations, federal authorities play the role that state or county law enforcement would play outside the reservation--a murder on a reservation might be investigated by the FBI, for example.

Starting roughly in the 70s, tribal sovereignty started to be asserted more and more by native governments. In Minnesota, it's not uncommon to see native license plates on cars, usually Ojibwe, instead of state-issued plates. Bingo halls and then casinos were another aspect of this. In this part of the country, Indians were supposed to retain hunting and fishing rights over large areas beyond the reservation, these rights were largely ignored until people started to assert them more openly in the 1980s. An enrolled member of a tribe may have the right to hunt, fish, or cut timber in wide areas defined by a treaty in the 1800s. These rights--which, frankly, are pretty clear--haven't always been respected.

Anyway, the very short and overly-simplistic answer is that state laws typically don't apply to Indians on reservations, but Federal laws do. It can be more complicated than that, but if you're looking for a one-sentence summary, there you go.
posted by gimonca at 7:10 PM on July 11, 2010 [7 favorites]


the shinnecock themselves don't want to build on their reservation. Secondly if they did want to build out there the reservation is maybe 2 miles east of where the expressway ends so it wouldn't be as big a deal as people portray it.

But they'll never do it on their reservation because the economics of a casino with table games are multiples better then a glorified bingo hall - and the state would have to sign off on that - and for about every reason imaginable that would never happen. There are a bunch of other reasons why it makes sense to do it further west as well.
posted by JPD at 8:11 PM on July 11, 2010


Thanks for all those explanations. I am seriously amazed that rapacious vultures forward-thinking entrepreneurs haven't set up shop on these reservations in order to exploit the lack of State law. I mean, you could set up brothels, sell alcohol to minors, and issue fraudulent securities; and do it all only metres from State territory!
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:46 PM on July 11, 2010


I mean, you could set up brothels, sell alcohol to minors, and issue fraudulent securities; and do it all only metres from State territory!

You do understand that lack of state law is not identical to, say, cats and dogs living together / mass hysteria? There is still the rule of law, it is just sovereign Native law. Also: there are no metres in North America.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:46 PM on July 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Relax, that metric bit was a joke.
posted by joe lisboa at 9:47 PM on July 11, 2010


If they are free of state law, then who dictates what kind of casino they would be "allowed" to have, as in, table games vs. machines?

If traffic is such a horrible problem out there, why don't they regulate it out of existence? It's not like the trains don't run out there. It certainly would be a more relaxed, holiday sort of environment without all the cars. Like, Fire Island, for example.
posted by Goofyy at 10:40 PM on July 11, 2010


Actually, a sovereign tribe is a good deal more "sovereign" than an individual person. Just try opening a casino in your backyard or opening your own police department. So this is sort of an absurd statement.

As I understand it, a tribe cannot open a casino without the permission of the Federal and State governments.
That's hardly sovereign.

Indeed, sovereign Indian nations can and do police their own borders, and can kick people off their land, regulate the use of their land differently than the surrounding counties, etc


Again with the approval of the Federal government. How far do you think they'd get if they decided to open ..oh, I don't know, a toxic waste dumping site, or started allowing 16 year olds from a nearby town to drink in bars?

ALL sovereignty is a matter of recognition, not just control. Sovereignty only exists when everyone "pretends" it does.

Exactly my point, it's time to stop recognizing the "pretend" independence of indians and accept them as yet another oppressed minority in a long list of oppressed minorities.
posted by madajb at 11:18 PM on July 11, 2010


The tribes will distribute their collective resources as they see fit. They don't require our approval.

It would appear in this case that they do, since they needed the Federal government to recognize them.
posted by madajb at 11:20 PM on July 11, 2010


According to wikipedia, the reservation is approximately 750 acres with about 500 people living on it.
I'm sure an equitable division could be made so that each of those people is deeded what would work out to be about 1.5 acres.

I imagine there would be some problems with unscrupulous developers trying to get their hands on the windfall, so perhaps a government program to advise the new landowners on the best course of action.
Advise, mind you, none of this "held in trust" nonsense. The individual would have all the decision making power.


So you're advocating precisely the mechanism that was used to destroy the power of native peoples in nations such as New Zealand under the guise of liberating them.

Hmm.
posted by rodgerd at 1:40 AM on July 12, 2010


So you're advocating precisely the mechanism that was used to destroy the power of native peoples in nations such as New Zealand under the guise of liberating them.

Perhaps. I'm not familiar with the practices in New Zealand.
posted by madajb at 3:04 AM on July 12, 2010


Goofy you realize "the hamptons" are about 60 miles from Westhampton to Montaux and probably 8-9 miles wide at their widest. Contrast that with Fire Isand which is less then a mile wide at its widest. Not to mention Fire Island is exclusively tourism, the South Fork still has a meaningful year round local contingent.


Goofy - look up Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It requires Class III gaming to exist only if there is an agreement "a compact" between the state and tribe, but requires no agreement for Class II gaming.
posted by JPD at 5:05 AM on July 12, 2010


It would appear in this case that they do, since they needed the Federal government to recognize them.

Yes, but the federal government (and state governments) *do* recognize their sovereignty. You can set up a casino on your front lawn, or open your own police department, but have no expectation that your "sovereignty" will be recognized. You are a sovereign individual because the various sovereign entities within which you live grant you specific rights that disappear when you leave the borders of that entity for the most part (unless those rights are recognized by extension under treaty).

See the difference? It's not an abstract discussion. Saying "sovereignty is bullshit" because it has to be "recognized" by other sovereign powers is absurd. If it weren't recognized (or, in effect, "granted"), it would not be sovereignty. By that measure, no country would be sovereign unless it had the military power to defeat all challengers. But somehow, Costa Rica and Belgium get seats at the UN, have their own banking systems, etc.

There are tribes where a majority would prefer a more truly national form of sovereignty, and some members of most tribes who'd prefer that too. There are still low-level wars going on between some tribes and the United States government; many New York Mohawks consider their land to be occupied by the Federal government for example. And many of my Alaskan friends strongly oppose the presence of state or federal wildlife agents on their land (and have successfully chipped away at the authority of those agents over time).

But if "sovereignty" is only real where a sovereign entity controls its borders fully, has a military that can take on all comers, and enters into no reciprocal agreements with its neighbors that grant mutual rights (like the way the US and Russia mutually enforce nuclear testing treaties with a verification regime), there actually are no sovereign nations on earth.

My whole, entire point is that thinking abstractly about this stuff is a waste of time when there are real political battles to be fought and won in the name of an expanding framework for Native sovereignty and the best political climate for practically achieving real (that is, recognized, respected, honored) sovereignty since 1492. The Shinnecock story is just the latest evidence that the wheels of justice may turn slowly, but they are finally fucking turning for real.

I love the last two paragraphs of the linked story which make the point more eloquently (tribal elders have a way of doing that):

For many of the Hamptons residents the prospect no doubt seems ridiculous: a relic of ancient history and long-forgotten wrongs. But not so for some of the Shinnecock. Elizabeth Haile, a 79-year-old tribal member, remembers her grandmother telling her how the Shinnecock Hills had been stolen.

Does she think the tribe will ever get them back? "Yeah," she said with no hesitation, and then added with a smile: "It is a prediction. Some people never thought we would get federally recognised."

posted by fourcheesemac at 5:10 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For many of the Hamptons residents the prospect no doubt seems ridiculous: a relic of ancient history and long-forgotten wrongs. But not so for some of the Shinnecock. Elizabeth Haile, a 79-year-old tribal member, remembers her grandmother telling her how the Shinnecock Hills had been stolen.

Does she think the tribe will ever get them back? "Yeah," she said with no hesitation, and then added with a smile: "It is a prediction. Some people never thought we would get federally recognised."


Something ironic in this statement given the Shinnecock Hills is now Shinnecock Hills GC and creates exactly the sort of traffic headaches the casino would when they host US Open every few years. If the tribe wants to get that back god bless'em. I'm pretty anti-casino in that my mom's family is working class hamptonites and life is already tough enough for them out there - but if the tribe wants to get the hills backs go for it. Where do I sign the petition.
posted by JPD at 5:27 AM on July 12, 2010


ETA - The hamptons are tough not because of a lack of service jobs, but because of the massively inflated food and housing because of the summer people.
posted by JPD at 5:29 AM on July 12, 2010


If they are free of state law, then who dictates what kind of casino they would be "allowed" to have, as in, table games vs. machines?

That's where the IGRA, passed by Congress in 1988, comes in. Layman's summary: federal government has the ultimate say, but the IGRA specified that the tribe and the state have to come to an agreement as part of the certification process. This is not without controversy, but in some parts of the country at least, it's fairly settled. (In Minnesota, the original compacts have no expiration date and specify that both side in the agreement have to agree to any changes. Since the compacts are advantageous to the Native side, and Native governments would have to agree to change them, it's assumed by everyone that the compacts are in place permanently. That doesn't apply here, because there's a newly recognized Native government.)

What will happen in this case? Dunno, you could get an actual lawyer who works in this area to give you a much better guess, but I think they'll be guessing to some extent also. It's a matter of the tribe and the state bargaining with each other to get what they want. If the state refuses to bargain at all, it seems like the tribe could sue in federal court (see the MN legislative report linked above). I'm going to guess that since New York has already agreed to Seneca and Mohawk casinos elsewhere in the state, it would be difficult for the state to deny a Shinnecock casino outright.
posted by gimonca at 5:37 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


If traffic is such a horrible problem out there, why don't they regulate it out of existence?

People would plotz. Especially residents, who need their cars to get around, already pay very high taxes and would probably not be thrilled to have to pay additional fees for cars. Every time East Hampton tries to life their overnight street parking ban, people go crazy. Plus, car traffic represents a significant source of income for local businesses.

It's not like the trains don't run out there. It certainly would be a more relaxed, holiday sort of environment without all the cars. Like, Fire Island, for example.

JPD has it. It would be totally impractical unless they also poured significant resources into increasing bus service. It is 40-60 miles from Westhampton to Montauk, and the towns and roads cover a significant distance north and south of the train stations.

Speaking of which, Long Island Railroad does run to Montauk. There's local service in the off season, and during peak season they add a express train from Jamaica to Montauk called the Cannonball whose first stop is Westhampton. It's very popular, but not convenient for anyone living in Eastern Queens, Nassau or Suffolk counties.
posted by zarq at 5:39 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Zarg, for some reason (probably the Over the Rainbow posting), made me think you were in Hawaii. Howdy, neighbor!

Hi neighbor!! Yep, I'm a native New Yorker. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Queens and... uh... Amarillo, TX. :D
posted by zarq at 5:47 AM on July 12, 2010


What will happen in this case? My read is that the state wants a downstate casino for the tax revenues, the Shinnecock want table gaming, and none of the interested parties actually want the casino located on the reservation. It will get built unless the state economy radically turns around and the revenue is not so enticing to Albany anymore.
posted by JPD at 6:38 AM on July 12, 2010


and... uh... Amarillo, TX


Everyone's always a bit hesitant to admit that. (Me included.)

For some reason, admitting to being from a town that's famous for buried cars, a nuclear bomb factory, and a 72 oz. colon clogger doesn't inspire vast amounts of pride.
posted by From the Fortress at 9:28 AM on July 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone's always a bit hesitant to admit that. (Me included.)

For some reason, admitting to being from a town that's famous for buried cars, a nuclear bomb factory, and a 72 oz. colon clogger doesn't inspire vast amounts of pride.


Ha! Although... I keep meaning to do an FPP about Marsh's Dynamite Museum, and especially the street signs. One of the cooler things about the town that I don't think has ever been covered on MeFi. Guess I know what I'll be posting tomorrow. :)
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on July 12, 2010


Saying "sovereignty is bullshit" because it has to be "recognized" by other sovereign powers is absurd.

I'm not saying anything of the sort.
I'm saying that claiming to be a sovereign nation while be wholly enclosed within a another nation's borders, relying on another nation for your everyday needs, petitioning the court of your host nation for recognition and needing the permission of another nation to build something is, as you say, bs.

Indian tribes are not independent in any meaningful way, and it's time we all stopped pretending otherwise.
posted by madajb at 1:14 PM on July 12, 2010


Is Monte Carlo sovereign? Hong Kong? St. Pierre et Miquelon? American Samoa? Bermuda? Jersey? Taiwan? Goa?

There are a lot of places that are called sovereign, with widely varying rights and responsibilities. It doesn't always mean a country in the traditional sense, with a military and taxes and a leader and well-defined borders.
posted by miyabo at 2:57 PM on July 12, 2010


Miyabo asked: Is Monte Carlo sovereign?

No, it's part of Monaco. Which is sovereign.

Hong Kong? No, it's a Special Administrative Region of China.

St. Pierre et Miquelon? No, it's an overseas collectivity of France.

American Samoa? No, it is an unincorporated territory of the USA.

Bermuda? No, it's a British Overseas Territory.

Jersey? No, it's a Crown Dependency of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Taiwan? Sovereign.

Goa? No; it is one of the States of India.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:47 PM on July 12, 2010


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