There are many HOLY PLACES in this beautiful world we are blessed to call home.
· When one travels to England to visit Holy Island, one finds Linsidfarne, an ancient place of prayer and reflection and contemplation and veneration, a sacred burial place of saints.
· If one journeys to Scotland's tiny Isle of Iona, one finds a very old place of prayer and meditation and rumination and reverence, the sacred burial place of kings.
· People from all over the world make pilgrimages to Mount Sinai in order to behold the ancient St. Catherine's Monastery, respected by Muslim and Jew and Christian, and which is to this day protected, because there are people who are committed to safeguard that hallowed place and believe it important to do so as long as it is possible.
At St. Catherine's there is a sign posted on which it is lettered plainly for all the world to read in Arabic and in Greek and in English these words:
"DO NOT FORGET THAT YOU ARE IN A HOLY PLACE".
It seems that many of our non-Shinnecock neighbors have forgotten that YOU ARE IN A HOLY PLACE, and that the Shinnecock Hills – all of the Shinnecock Hills, is a HOLY PLACE an ancient burial place for our people.
We have asked you to not desecrate our HOLY PLACES. And we have asked repeatedly for our Hills to be preserved, we have asked continually for this land and our spiritual beliefs and our sacred connection to this land be respected, and time and time again you ignore what we say, and over and over you draw lines on your paper, and trace boundaries on your maps, and sign checks in your checkbooks and record deeds in your deed books, and you think your inadequate attempts to truly protect and care for this HOLY PLACE worthy of our gratitude. To allow further construction on this land, as described in a deal I heard about today is to miss the point.
But I am not without hope – it is my hope that even this very night you might begin to think with your heart, and you might think a new thought about respecting your neighbors, and about regarding our HOLY PLACE, what there is left to protect of the Shinnecock Hills; the whole of these 13 contiguous acres.
If, however, past behavior is the best indication of future behavior, I ought place no trust in the thought that if there be found one human or funerary artifact, if there is found one ancient relic or even as many as 10 human bodies – as was recently the case on Shelter Island – that you would do anything other than continue with your plans to completely dominate the sacred lands of my people, and to commence with your vision of development which is destruction and pollution of our HOLY PLACE.
· There have been human burials found on the Shinnecock Hills Golf Course and, even so, it is not held in reverence by those who now occupy that land or by those whose play and commerce continues on those hills – at least not yet.
· There have been human burials unearthed on the campus of the Southampton College and yet it is not 'held apart' or set aside in reverence as a HOLY PLACE by those who currently occupy that land, business continues on those hills, too, at least today it did.
It would seem that the human remains found on the Golf Course and on the Southampton College Campus and in other places in the Shinnecock Hills are not respected because they are those of Native People; it would seem that because they are not the remains of white people whose local graves and holy places are regarded as worthy of respect, construction (as you call it) and destruction (as we call it) in this place – a place called even by non-Natives 'archeologically sensitive' – is continued with impunity.
It is my observation that the concern of this Township and its government is to, along with its current legal action against the Shinnecock Nation claiming that we do not exist, and that we do not have the right to exist, continue to do with our sacred land precisely what you wish, and to do exactly what makes the most money for those who deal in money, and to do what ever translates into the greatest 'political profit' for those who deal in power and votes and public opinion.
Where are the HOLY PLACES OF THE SHINNECOCK? The HOLY PLACES OF THE SHINNECOCK lie beneath the grand homes and palaces and golf courses and tennis courts of our neighbors who have yet to understand that this land is more than merely their passing property investment – it is our life – and you care very little for the life of my Shinnecock People as demonstrated daily here in the heart of the Hamptons at the height of the season.
IT IS MY HOPE THAT YOU WILL SHOW ME SOMETHING NEW TONIGHT.
Reverend Holly Haile Davis, DD
August 22, 2006
Testamony at hearing on Southampton Town acceptance of easements on the property of Robert Romeo in Shinnecock Hills.