The Shinnecock Nation this week announced the Hamptons’ first casino, to feature 1,000 video lottery terminals, 30 Texas Hold‘em tables and a bingo parlor. Photo: Adobe Stock Have to hand it to the Shinnecock Nation. After centuries of the kind of exploitation, oppression and downright abuse that have befallen most Native Americans, they have Long Island’s power elite reeling.
Gone are the days when shameless land speculators, their well connected lawyers, along with farmers and politicians, took cynical advantage of them. No longer are Shinnecocks induced with crude fraud into giving away what they owned for countless generations, enabling the Hamptons to flourish with hotels, resorts, estates and even a world-class golf course, cynically bearing the tribe’s name.
The old story of white society’s leaving them on a 900-acre reservation, a tiny fraction of what had once been theirs, barely able to subsist, left the Shinnecocks at a terrible disadvantage. Internal strife and poverty were their fate, and the harsh reality, frankly, was that no one on the outside really gave a damn.
Fewer than a thousand Shinnecocks remained, and the local press covered whatever disputes tribal leaders had among themselves, while their annual Powwow celebration served as one of the tribe’s only source of revenue for its struggling people.
Then, slowly but surely, things began to change. It had, perhaps, all to do with their vision, with patience and tenacity, durably connected to their ancient heritage, their love for their land and for the spirit of their ancestors. Nothing was beyond reach.