To: Joe Shaw, Southampton Press
November 4, 2007
Judge Joseph Bianco's ruling in the Westwoods land case continues the tradition of injustice for the first peoples of this place and of this land.
In the 1600s land was 'sold' by natives who understood nothing of the concept of real estate. Sometimes the same land was 'sold' more than once by the same native to different English colonists. (See for instance John Strong's "History of the Algonquin People").
In the time in which Judge Bianco ruled that the Shinnecock people lost their 'aboriginal title' to Westwoods, the laws of the Connecticut colony which included the settlement forbid the sale of native lands unless approved by the colonial government in Hartford. The sale cited by the judge was illegal.
All this was brought before the court and was discounted by the judge.
That this was a political judgement was made clear by Bianco's gratuitous statement about the effects of a casino on traffic and by his statement that contrary to a ruling by the same court the Shinnecock Nation is not federally recognized.
If there was any further doubt about the political nature of the ruling it was dispelled by its timing; exactly one week before elected a new Town Board and weeks after a ruling was expected.