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Jul 27, 2016 10:40 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Shinnecock Tribal Members Stand Up For Rights To Access Southampton Village Beaches

Dyani Brown spoke to Southampton Village Board members about the Shinnecock Nation's right to access the beaches free of charge, on Tuesday. GREG WEHNER
Jul 27, 2016 1:52 PM

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation this week formally sought the right to access beaches in the Village of Southampton, presenting a resolution to the Village Board on Tuesday night that would exempt tribe members from having to pay to park at village beaches.

Among the Shinnecock making the case at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting was Dyani Brown, who is in the process of disputing a parking ticket she received at Coopers Beach on August 9, 2014. As a member of the Nation who lives on the reservation—which lies just outside village boundaries—Ms. Brown has argued, in court, that she should be allowed to park at village beaches for free, just as village residents can.

She went on to say the village is denying reasonable access to the beach with its parking fee, which is $40 per day, or $225 for the season for non-residents of the village.

Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley told Ms. Brown on Tuesday that the village is not denying the Shinnecock people access to the beach. “What we are asking for is, if you are going to pull a car into that lot and park, that, like everybody else, you are going to participate in the cost of the maintenance of the beach,” he said.

Ms. Brown rejected that. “Unfortunately, because of how this country was established, you don’t have jurisdiction to charge us to access these same resources that we both share,” she responded.

Village Board member Richard Yastrzemski said he has seen numerous groups ask for free access to village parking lots, but that he has never seen a sovereign nation come forward with the request, nor has he seen anyone present a resolution on the matter. The problem, he said, comes when people seek to park for free, when village residents pay to park—via property taxes.

“In terms of it being for free—it’s not for free. We’ve already paid,” said Lance Gumbs, a former Shinnecock Tribal Trustee who attended the meeting along with Tribal Trustee Chairman Bryan Polite and presented the proposed resolution to the board.

“You are denying us the continuation of who we are, the ‘people of the stony shore,’” Ms. Brown told Village Board members, using the translation of the word “Shinnecock.” “Denying us access is denying us our cultural identity, and that is a violation of human indigenous rights.” Mr. Epley asked Ms. Brown why she had not approached or fought for the Shinnecock Nation’s right to access beaches run by Suffolk County or Southampton Town. Ms. Brown replied that she intends to do so.

Mr. Gumbs invited members of the board to visit the Shinnecock Nation Cultural Center and Museum to see all the murals that depict the Shinnecock people and their connection to the ocean.

Even the Village of Southampton seal, which was referred to many times because of its visibility in Village Hall, where the meeting was held, shows a Shinnecock Indian and an English settler facing one another, showing a relationship that has been in place since 1640.

“We have a golden opportunity to work together,” Mr. Gumbs told board members.

The Village Board took no action on the proposed resolution on Tuesday. Mr. Epley said village officials would review it.

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I have paintings of hunting scenes, doesn't give me a right to hunt???
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 11:18 AM
I think you might be missing the point...
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 9:34 AM
1 member liked this comment
Best of luck to the Shinnecocks. I don't see it happening.
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Jul 27, 16 11:52 AM
So the English settler whispered to the Schinnecock native..."One day you will have to pay me to park this beach"...But seriously, If the Shinnecock are successful, I'd like to become an honorary member and get some of that free parking to. Good luck to them. Non -resident parking fees are too high.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 12:36 PM
Hmmmm ...I see that it is stated that property taxes pay for the village beaches .... is it only village taxes that pay for the maintenance, etc of the beaches? or are some of SH town taxes used for the upkeep also? I also thought that if you were within the local school districts or a volunteer fireman in one of the SHV departments you were entitled to a SH Village Beach Pass ...... is that correct?
By leo (19), hampton Bays on Jul 27, 16 1:44 PM
Yes. One of the things the Volunteer Firefighters in the SFD get is free beach parking.

Do you not think its fair to give dedicated volunteers something in return for countless nights of training, meetings and drills, not to mention changing their plans at a seconds notice to help a neighbor?
By Draggerman (907), Southampton on Jul 27, 16 9:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
I am not aware that School District residents receive a Village Beach sticker. They are treated as non-residents.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Jul 28, 16 6:43 AM
Volunteer Firemen deserve whatever we can give them in return for their dedicated service to our communities. Was just asking for info and clarification on the parking issue.....
By leo (19), hampton Bays on Jul 28, 16 7:55 AM
Southampton Village beaches are free to go to, you just have to pay to park if you are a non village residents. Not a big deal park in a village lot and walk or get dropped off at the beach, just make sure of the parking time restrictions. The Shinnecock members can surely do this as I and many other people do. Want to park at a village move into the village. Same at the beautiful beaches in East Hampton. East Hampton village even has a free ride shuttle that takes you right to main beach, by far ...more
By lawnman (21), easthampton on Jul 27, 16 1:56 PM
Members of the Shinnecock Nation have already paid, and paid dearly, let anyone with Tribal ID access any and all Village facilities free of future charges. The alleged increased costs are a canard, the Village employees are already on the payroll and any increased use of Village parking areas will have no cost. It is a win win for all concerned!!!!!!!!!!!!!
By bigfresh (4381), north sea on Jul 27, 16 5:06 PM
Definitely not sure about this, but I seem to recall having read in the SH Press a while ago that the members of the Shinnecock Nation have very limited access to the waterfront on their own reservation. Does anybody know if this is true?
By beachplum (6), southampton on Jul 28, 16 10:46 AM
You know, as I read the article it should probably be titled, "Shinnecocks Request Free Parking at Village Beaches." Who is preventing them from access to Village beaches?
By Bayman1 (297), Sag Harbor on Jul 28, 16 3:58 PM
1 member liked this comment
They are not allowed to purchase beach stickers to park or drive on Southampton Town beaches? It is an outrage. The prejudice against the Shinnecock is generational and utterly wrong. This narrow minded community should be ashamed.
By Vikki K (490), Southampton on Jul 29, 16 11:06 AM
what is an outrage is your inability to comprehend simple facts. they are allowed to purchase stickers. they want them for free. UNDERSTAND???!!!
By CaptainSig (708), Dutch Harbor on Jul 31, 16 9:20 PM
Next thing they may ask for is to be exempt from traffic tickets and other responsibilities shared by citizens of these United States. So long as they live on the Reservation, they are exempt from income and property taxes, they have their own tribal courts as well as a multitude of other special considerations. As mentioned, they may come and enjoy the beach for FREE. The fee is only for parking a car. Perhaps they should bicycle, walk or take free transportation as the rest of us do.
By jediscuba (65), Suthampton on Jul 29, 16 11:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
Free parking in Village, free shuttle to beach. How about contributing. I can't use the reservation beaches, only for RESIDENTS??? How about the nice beaches on Peconic???
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Aug 1, 16 9:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Shinnecock community is relatively small, and providing them with free parking stickers won't have a huge impact on anything. How much will it really cost? Considering the history of this country, town, and village, it sure seems fair to me. The outrage and disrespect some people are showing is a bit unbelievable.
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Aug 2, 16 8:26 AM
SH Res, the folks on the rez can come off real entitled and snarky at times...so they need to ask politely too and not be aggressive.
By even flow (841), East Hampton on Aug 3, 16 7:57 AM
What is wrong with you people!? Let the NATIVE Americans park at the water's edge without having to pay some outlandish penalty. Is there not enough chaos on the planet? Show some respect, some compassion and come together.
By even flow (841), East Hampton on Aug 3, 16 7:32 AM
We all have the same rights and are all equal before the law. That's the essence of our Liberal democracy. Ms. Brown's elitist assertion of supra-legal privileges based on blood is abhorrent. It is, in fact, THE reason that we fought a revolution.

Be a good citizen, Ms. Brown, pay the parking fee like every other citizen - - - and stop trying to claim a status superior to your countrymen whose ancestors came here later than yours.
By highhatsize (4038), East Quogue on Aug 3, 16 8:14 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By CaptainSig (708), Dutch Harbor on Aug 3, 16 8:17 AM
Continue to fight for your rights Ms Brown!! Ignore the negative !
By toes in the water (846), southampton on Aug 4, 16 7:39 AM
2 members liked this comment
Hey editor- I guess no Orwell quotes allowed??
By CaptainSig (708), Dutch Harbor on Aug 4, 16 8:33 AM
SH RES, outrage and disrespect? Sounds like you have it backwards...
By knitter (1725), Southampton on Aug 4, 16 10:11 AM
Agree to disagree, and that's alright.
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Aug 4, 16 10:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
8k run & 3 mile walk, Agawam Park, Southampton Rotary Club fundraiser