Court rules against Shinnecock Nation’s casino bid

Central Islip, New York (AP) 11-07

A federal judge has struck down the Shinnecock Nation’s bid to build a casino on a disputed parcel of land in the Hamptons.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco said his role was not to remedy the “substantial economic hardships” faced by the Shinnecocks.
Bianco found that documents proved the tribe’s aboriginal title was extinguished in the 17th century. He said the Shinnecock are not federally recognized as a sovereign tribe, and the Hampton Bays site is not federally recognized as Indian land.

The judge also cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision that barred building a casino if it would have “highly disruptive consequences” on the area.

“While we intend to appeal at our first opportunity, we remain willing to work with local, state and federal officials on a solution that provides long term benefits for the Nation and our neighbors,” the Shinnecock Nation Board of Trustees said in a statement.

The tribe said during October that it would consider dropping the Hamptons plan if it were allowed to build a full-scale gambling operation, with 4,500 video lottery terminals, at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.

“We remain confident that we will be placed on the list of federally recognized tribes one way or another,” said the Shinnecock trustees.

“This is just one more obstacle that the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which has had a social and cultural presence for thousands of years on the eastern end of Long Island, will have to overcome,” the trustees said. “However, we will succeed because we will never back down in our fight to provide justice and economic opportunity for our people.”