Shinnecock Nation weighs options over theft of ancestral lands

The Shinnecock Nation resides on the far eastern end of Long Island in New York. Photo from Shinnecock Indian Nation fan page / Facebook

The Shinnecock Nation of New York has been fighting for more than a century to recover its ancestral land, former chairman Lance Gumbs told Southampton Patch.

Gumbs said the tribe's land was taken by fraudulent means in 1859. Of the 20 people who agreed to sell about 3,500 acres on Long Island, he said 10 were not Shinnecock and the other 10 were already dead.

”They were all forged," Gumbs told Patch.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals last fall, however, ruled that the tribe waited too long to pursue the land claim. A petition to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible but Gumbs said the tribe is owed an apology and compensation.

"We are not going to let this go," Gumbs told Patch. "We may have lost this battle but we haven’t lost the war. That’s the reality.”

The Supreme Court hasn't been receptive to tribal land claims ever since its March 2005 decision in Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation. Although that case did not address a land claim, the justices held that the passage of time works against tribes that are trying to assert their sovereignty.

The 2nd Circuit applied that outcome to a series of land claims in New York, with tribes losing every decision since 2005. The Supreme Court has repeatedly refused to examine whether the 2nd Circuit's approach is correct.

Turtle Talk has posted briefs from the case, Shinnecock Indian Nation v. State of New York.

Get the Story:
Former Shinnecock Tribal Chief on Land Battle: 'You Can't Steal Our Land Outright and Not Compensate Us' (Southampton Patch 2/17)

2nd Circuit Decision:
Shinnecock Nation v. New York (October 27, 2015)

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