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Jul 3, 2018 12:49 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

The Montaukett Indians May Soon Be Recognized By New York State

Jul 3, 2018 2:18 PM

New legislation penned by State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. that aims to reinstate the Montaukett Indian Nation’s state recognition has been approved by both houses of the State Legislature and is now awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

The tribe has been fighting for acknowledgment from New York State since 1910, when a state court case declared the nation as extinct and stripped it of its official status, along with the majority of its former land in Montauk.

“Prior to 1910, the Montaukett Indians were recognized by New York State as a tribe,” Mr. LaValle said in a statement. “The designation was improperly removed from them in 1910, and it’s time the Montaukett Tribe receives the appropriate recognition.”

Similar bills that sought formal state recognition for the Montauketts were drafted by Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele and approved by the legislature twice in the past five years, most recently in 2017. But, in both instances, they were derailed by Mr. Cuomo, who requested additional information on the tribe and its history.

“I think a great injustice was done by the state over a century ago,” Mr. Thiele said. “It’s always something that, quite frankly, outraged me that this happened, and it’s not an uncommon occurrence in American history. This is our own local story—and I think that we should try to right this wrong.”

Montaukett officials met with the governor’s counsel for the first time this Spring to provide evidence of their continued presence on the East End. In a phone interview, Mr. Thiele said that he hoped this meeting would “yield an understanding” and prompt the governor to approve the legislation later this year.

“The governor wants to ensure that, in spite of that court decision, the Montaukett Indians have continually existed,” Mr. Thiele said. “I think evidence overwhelmingly supports that they continue to be a tribe, continue to be a nation, and have acted as such over the past 100 years. They’re on the ground, alive and well, and have maintained their government and membership and maintained their cultural traditions.”

If signed into law, the bill, which was approved 137-1 in the Assembly and 61-0 in the Senate, would immediately give state recognition to the Montaukett Indian Nation.

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So now the Montauk Indians will lay claim to portions of public land in Montauk.

Sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie. Thiele is opening up a can of worms and difficulties. They have not been a tribe or in possession of the contested lands for over 100 years. Now, NYS and Suffolk County will be spending huge amounts of money on litigation.
By JohnSmith (25), Johnson City, Tennessee on Jul 3, 18 6:01 PM
Let sleeping dogs lie? Why would we want to legitimize a group of people? I think there should be one test to see if you are actually a tribe. If anyone in your tribe went to an Indian school, back when they had them , you should be declared a federally recognized tribe. If the government sent them to Indian schools, then they must be members of a tribe. You can’t have it both ways. Bravo to the montauketts.
By Fred s (3187), Southampton on Jul 5, 18 8:33 PM
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