Shinnecock Indians receive formal recognition from the U.S. government

The Shinnecock Indians have received formal recognition from the U.S. government, putting the tiny band closer to owning a casino somewhere on Long Island and very possibly in the environs of New York City.

“This is the most historic moment in Shinnecock history,” trustee Lance Gumbs told The Associated Press in an interview from the tribe’s 1,200-acre reservation in Southampton, L.I., where about 500 members live in proximity to some of the most expensive real estate in the world, home to Wall Street moguls and Hollywood celebrities.

Gumbs said, “Any discussion of a casino is a secondary thought.” But the Shinnecocks have been seeking federal recognition for decades, at one point trying to circumvent the approval process in federal court, but a judge rejected that effort in 2007. In 2003 the tribe broke ground on a casino only to get sued by local officials, who were granted a federal injunction to stop the development.

N.Y. Gov. David Paterson told AP he supported federal recognition for the tribe, which has long been recognized at the state level. He said also that he is open to negotiating with them for a more suitable location for a casino. Several locations have been bandied about, including Belmont Park racetrack in Nassau County just outside New York City and the Nassau Coliseum.