On April 4 Shinnecock Elder Elizabeth Thunder Bird Haile presented a talk "History You Should Know" at a meeting of the Southampton Democratic Club in Hampton Bays.
Elizabeth Thunder Bird Haile is a founder of the Shinnecock Cultural Center and Museum
and of the Padoquohan Medicine Lodge - helping those on the Reservation needing repair of housing and help with getting by.
Mrs. Haile was introduced by Methodist minister, Reverend Jack King of the Westhampton Methodist Church, formerly of the Southampton United Methodist Church.
The talk, recorded by WPKN 89.5 FM /WPKM 88.7 FM community radio can be heard here.
Here are some excerpts(*):
"Some think it all started in 1640... actually that is a good place to start.
Our best good year was 1639. We've gone from that point in love.
Nowedonah , my direct ancestor and our people welcomed the first little boat (of settlers) that landed at North Sea. They did not have anything to eat, no water. He saw to it they had a place to live.
Our Shinnecock people taught them to use the soil and how to build a house
that survives a hurricane. They built a wickiup ..an engineering marvel. You can come to the Shinnecock Cultural Center and Museum (**) to see one.
There was no time of warfare. Land changed hands in a spirit of sharing.
Federal Law forbid buying and selling of land with native people. It protected
the native people from theft. ... but it 1859 there was going to be a Long Island Rail Road from New York City to Montauk. They had to go through
the Shinnecock Hills. Twenty-one Shinnecock put their X on a petition to New York State that requested 'an interchange' of land. It was disputed by the Shinnecock Trustees and some whose names were on the document. ...but the railroad was built.
On the East End of Long Island we say the biggest business is real estate. I am asking where did this real estate come from?
The land and the water are forever... there are different conceptions about who owns it...
I believe that if you know the history as we see it ... that the policies will reflect a
sense of justice ...and you can see that we believe there has been injustice.
The Art Village (north of the present Shinnecock Reservation) - Samuel Parrish had to pay rent to Shinnecock (to live there) but in the last 10 years we had to go to court about Parrish Pond (where a development was built over a native burial ground.
There was a time when our people were not proud of their ways.
This is a dangerous thing. Some people changed their names to sound 'english'.
The Shinnecock Pow Wow was a way of our healing ... My father Chief Thunder Bird and my mother Edith told our people that "we are going to be proud of our ways". We are going to invite (the new england tribes) to come dance with us. It makes our kids proud and it makes Southampton proud. I have the privilage of opening it (with the Lord's Prayer dance) each year.
When does stolen land become un-stolen ... You will look at how these things
came to be. I think you will seek some kind of justice ... the Shinnecock people are waiting for justice ... and you should know that.
We are asking for people to have some feelings for a way to go forward as sisters and brothers on eastern LI.
We must save our waters ... stop throwing things into our bays....
Two more things to consider:
The Declaration of Indigenous Rights written at the UN. The US did not ratify it.
Gravesite protection laws to protect ancestral relics. All states except 4 including NY have such laws.
Present local law just requires the coroner to be called to detiremine if there was a
A few years ago some of our ancestors remains came to the surface on
Shelter Island... A couple building a barn found the bones on their property .... they knew there was no law... in a voluntary way they contacted authorities ... i was called. These are our ancestors remains.
New York Sate is remiss. there needs to be a proper way to handle this..
I have care for what happens to human remains no matter whose.
The (proposed) ordinances are sitting on the desks of the Supervisors of the 5 east end towns... only Shelter Island has acted on it. We hope that the (Southampton) Town will act on it.
We believe in the seventh generation because we want life to go on.
We all care about the future of Southampton.
We say Tabutne - our Shinnecock way of saying thankyou.
* not a verbatim transcription
** The Shinnecock Cultural Center and Museum is at Montauk Highway and West Gate Road on the Shinnecock Reservation