SOUTHHAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than a dozen members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation are camping out in the East End of Long Island woods to protest the tribe’s treatment by New York state and the Town of Southampton.
They have a long list of demands.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports, Shinnecock tribal members say it has come to this: Camping out for a month on their land off Sunrise Highway. Grandmothers like Rebecca Genia and Margo Thunderbird are protesting state and local roadblocks to their economic advancement.
“We are making a stand for justice to bring awareness of New York state constantly putting road blocks in front of us,” Genia said.
“We want them to listen to us,” Thunderbird said.
Among their demands: The state drop its opposition to the tribe’s giant electronic ad towers, one of two already built, which provides revenue needed to improve medical and day care safety, and roads on the Shinnecock reservation.
“It’s land we have held since time immemorial. We have self-determination and the right to dictate our own matters,” said Randy King, vice chairman of the council of trustees of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.
Tribe leaders call the encampment a grassroots effort by members frustrated with state and town intervention.
“We don’t have a tax base so this economic development literally puts food on the table for our members and improves our quality of life,” said Bryan Polite, who also is on the council of trustees.
The encampment is following COVID-19 safety protocols and raising money for food and supplies.
Southampton’s town supervisor says he has no issue with the protest, and is working with Shinnecock leaders on meaningful economic development.
The state continues to oppose the ad towers, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s office says it is working with the Shinnecock on solutions.
Protestors say this is about their maltreatment since 1640.
“It’s desperate. We are cold. We want to be heard and we are going to be heard,” Genia said.
The encampment will continue until Thanksgiving, which the group considers a national day of mourning.
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