The Shinnecock Indian Nation cleared a major hurdle toward its goal of federal recognition on Tuesday when it entered into a settlement with the Interior Department that requires a preliminary ruling on its tribal status by the end of the year.
Shinnecock leaders would like to run the first casino in downstate New York, and wrote to Gov. David A. Paterson on Tuesday, citing the settlement as an impetus to begin talks with the state on a range of issues.
After a court fight of more than 30 years, the Shinnecocks believe that federal recognition is in their grasp; they have long been recognized by the state, and a federal judge described them as a sovereign tribe in a 2005 ruling. The settlement gives the federal government until Dec. 15 to make a preliminary ruling on the Shinnecocks’ status.
The implications for New York could be considerable.
The Shinnecocks are based in Southampton, N.Y. Once federally recognized, they would immediately have the right to build a “Class II” casino on their 800-acre reservation, a designation that would mean they could have thousands of video slot machines, but no table games. Like other tribes, the Shinnecocks see a casino as a way to lift their members out of poverty, a condition highlighted by the tribe’s proximity to the extravagance of the Hamptons. (Complete Story)