A Tribe stakes its Identity on a Casino - in the Hamptons

A Tribe stakes its Identity on a Casino - in the Hamptons -...

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Unformatted text preview: It’s about the new Electric Rabbit. The display screen show; now many corks you can pull before re-charging. The compact design is up to 3 inches shorter than other electric corkscrews. The recessed spiral fits neatly over a wine bottleThe l2 ectric Rabbit has plenty to be a buzz about. Where To 60 Electric Rabbit Hunting: Crate 84 Barrel, Macy‘s, Dillard’s, Sur La Table, Chet’s Catalog, Spec's, Le Gourmet Chet, Kitchen Ka pers, Total Wine & More, Belelol metrkone metrokanecorr THE NEW YORKER. DECEMBER l3, 20lO THE NEW YORKER DECEMBER I3, 2010 I2 GOINCIS ON ABOUT TOWN 33 THE TAE K OF THE TOWN Hena'ri/e Hertz/767g on [/95 Iran lea/ex; briefs 10]; Dir/c Van Dy/ceis‘ sbow. Atria/Levy 4o OUR LOCAL CORRESPONDENTS Reservations fl lribe/Dlans a Karina in tbe Harnpz‘ons. Yoni Brenner 50 SHOUTS a MURMURS Fantasy Diplomacy jonab Lebrer 52 ANNALS OF SCIENCE The Truth \Nears Off fln oa’a’ tiwisl i n lbr .I'ricnz‘yic met/90d. Peter]. Boyer 58 THE POLITICAL 5CENE House Rule Can jolm Borbner control bixparz‘y? joyire Carol Oates 7o PERSONAL HISTORY A Widow’s Story 14 long marriage comes to an end. NuradzlinFara/y 80 FICTION “YoungThing” THE CRITICS jo/m LIZ/9)” 88 A CRITIC AT LARGE Tbe c and war/e ofElia Kazan. BOOKS 95 A Year‘s Reading fobn Cassiaiy 96 Cbina and fbiifi‘ca—mar/eel inylly. Hilton/1A: |O2 THE THEATRE “every tongue Ifziinflisxs‘, " “O/elabonia/ ” flnz‘bony Lani? IO4 THE CURRENT CINEMA “Tbc F lgbz‘ei; ” ‘ilLow You Plyillip Morris. " POEMS W. S. Morwin 62 “The Chain to Her Leg’7 Lina’a Pastan 9| “The Gardener” COVER “llo~/,'70—HO/,“ by George Boot/J DRAW/NOS C'bar/cs Barsotti, William Himzill'on Rolwl Monkq/ffobn O'Brirn, 14/696 Gregory, Victoria Roberti, Mart/Jew Difil'c', William Hacfili, P. C. My, Robert Lclgbz‘on, Far/Ivy Katz, Mic/95161 Marlin, Roz Cbaxt, Ezlriuaril Koran, Toni (L'lmn’y, Harry Blin, Alia/yogi Crawford, Barbara Smaller .Si’O’lIV Benoif van Innix ‘ZU‘ZU‘ZU. fiE‘ZUyOVkET. 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It. 201 l; at ottrer times, purchasers receive a 10% discount all the purchase oncothiough February 28, 2011 while quantities last “SIXrMUlllh NovRisk Money Back Guarantee is limited to product ; iircnases made rtrrrictlyfrom Rosetta Stone and does not include return SIllellll: Guarantee does not apply to any onlirie subscnptioirs purchased separately lror ittre CDVRUM pludllti or subscription renewal. 40 THE NEW YORKER, DECEMBER I3. 2OIO r Do you li kc sand, quaintncss, twenty— cighr:—dollar salads, parties under white tcn‘ts, investment bankers, hip hop stars, Barbara Walters, locally grown produce, DJ. Samantha Ronson, and lovely taI‘rlcscapcs? Then South- ampton is the place for you: a land of natural splendor and immodest indul— gence. A Victorian cottage on Hill Street—«nowhere near the bcach——rents for a hunder thousand dollars a sum— met. (The, W cb sitc advertising it says that its “perfect for your staffor overflow guests”) A spacious place with a water view will act you back about five hun— dred thousand, The real cost, though, isn't money; it’s time. To get to the Harnptons, just east ofManhattan, you must sit on the Long lsland Express— way’-—thc biggest parking lot in the world, as thcy say~f0r hour upon hour ofovcrhcatcd immobility. And it’s only going to get worse, be- cause the Shinnecock Indian Nation, based on a reservation just minutes from the center of Southampton, intends to open a casinow-or several—on Long ls— land. A set ofzzirchitcct’s renderings, pic— turing a great room with burgundy ban— qucttcs and rows of shining slot machines, is already hanging on the walls ofa trailer that the three tribal trustees use as an ‘ oflicc. Thc Shinnccocks want a “high— ‘ class Monte Carlovtype” operation, a member oi’ithc tribe's Gaming Authority , said, somewhere “near our homelands in ‘ Southampton,” and perhaps another, loss ‘ posh facility in Nassau County. "‘Ifthc Mashantuckct's can have the highest— grOssing casino in the world in the woods of Connecticut," a former Shinnccock trustee named Fred Bess told me, refer- ring to the Mashantuckct Pequots’ Fox- woods rcsort, “just think what we could ‘ do twenty miles out of Manhattan." The Shinnccocks have said that they will build road 5 to funnel casino traffic away from the LIE, but there are many people in the Hamptons—pcoplc who don’t have the money to commute from Manhattan by helicopter but who are still rich enough to bc accustomed to getting what they want—who are aghast at the prospect of more cars on the road, not to mention the unquaintness of a casino marring their manicured pastoral. Such people “do not want their idyllic environ— ment hurt by thc added traffic, conges— tion, and noise ofa gaming facility,” Sen— ator Charles Schumcr wrote to the Bureau of Indian Atfairs several years ago. The state senator Kenneth LaVallc said that the tribe was “blatantly thrcat— cning the quality of life on the East End." But the Shinnccocks might be for— given for considering their own quality of life, which is markedly different from that in the rest of the Harnptons. The median household income on the reservation, ac— cording to the 2000 census, is $14,055 a year. Only about six hunder people live on the Shinnccocks’ eight hundred acres, which have the fch of a scnlffy summer camp. During the day, you can hear the zoom of boys speeding along the bumpy roads into the forest on four—whccl A.T.V.s. At night, jacked-up cars with hip—hop on the stereo cruise toward Cutfee's Beach, where kids go to hang out and hook up and get high. The land is green and wild, and most ofthe houses have an unfinisth wall covered in white Tyvek houscwrap or a roof draped in quc tarp. Because the land is held in trust by the tribe, it is impossible to get a mort~ gage on the rcscrvation, where banks can— not forcclosc, so young couples often add a room onto a family home, and houses grow into haphazard hugencss. People still hunt in the forest and send their kids down to the water to collect buckets of clams, activities that thc Shin- nccocks View as part oftheir ancestral tra— dition. The tribe is indigenous to the spot. Since there is no evidence to sug— gest a large—scale migration onto or off Long Island, historians believe that the native people that Europeans encoun— lion] 3 still tting tthe ot to .sino Such ron— 1ges— Sene the lears Valle reat~ End." for ity of i that :di an 1, ac— )55 a 3 live lchs, '1 mer r the rmpy heel with mud hang land )uses Vhite ,blue .st by aort— can— iadd DUSCS send )llect ihin- Ll tra— ) the sug— )r ()5 ,t the oun— ...«__M_"www.crmmw, WMMW s tered when they arrived, in the sixteen4 hundreds, were the direct descendants of the aboriginal inhabitants of the land, ten thousand years ago. In the mid—seventeenth century, though, the Shinnecock population dwindled, when new diseases came ashore with the colonists. it became nec essary to intermarry, and the Shinne— cocks often married African— Americans. Today, most Shinnecocks look black but fle/ Indian—an identity quite distinct from both the crisp Yankee austerity of Old Southampton and the tlamboyance of its more recent summer immigrants. The reservation is an insular place, and nearly everyone there is related. If a member ofthe tribe was in the hospital, Marguerite Smith, a tribal adorney, told me, “two hundred of us might show up and claim we are immediate family." The question of whether to open a casino—which many Shinnecocks see as inconsistent with their traditional way oflife——l1as created the kind ofdis- agreement you might expect from peo- ple living in what is essentially an end less family reunion. In 1996, at a tribal meeting in the cinder~block Shinnecock Cormmlni“:y Center, a discussion about the possibility of building a casino exe ploded into a brawl. By the time it was over, people were throwing chairs at one another and one trustee's brother had bitten a woman’s finger to the bone. “You just 14 wok at this place,” Nlike Smith, who has been the pastor of the Shinnecoek Presbyterian Church for twenty five years, said, one afternoon a few months ago. He was walking near his h ouse, on Little Beach Road, which he shares with his Wife, three grown children, and three grandchil— dren. “3 You go down to Cuflbe’s Beach, the DuPonts and the Vanderbilts and the Rockefellers are right there.” Look— ing out on Shinnecock Bay, one sees the sandy spit ofiVleadow Lane, stud— ded with grand old estates, just across the water. The Shinnecocks’ parcel of forest and beachfront would be worth billions of dollars if they were ever for sale, “It makes no sense, no logical (W. 1071'! have nothing! ” Photograph hy Gillian Lauh. sense, for us to still be here in light of that,” Smith said. “But here we sit." side from three—card monte and Wall Street, lVIanhattan doesn‘t have much in the way ofgambling. New Yorkers travel south to Atlantic City, or up to Connecticut, to gamble. Long lse landers take a highespeed ferry to New London or Bridgeport, near the Pee quots’ and the lVlohegansy casinos, the two largest in North America. This maritime movement of business THE NEW YORKER, DECEMBER l3, 2OIO 4| “Li/e6 l/Vz’éz'Leaks bar not/ying better to do. ” from the East End of Long Island to Con— necticut follows a pattern established cen- turies ago. The currency that sustained the fur trade between European settlers and native people was wampum—beads made from the purple interior ofclamsliells. The Shinnecocks produced wampum from shells found on the banks ofLong Island Sound and brought it by canoe to Con— necticut, where the Pequots, a more pow— erful tribe, controlled the local economy. Only when the Pequots were routed by the Europeans, in the Pequot War of 1637, did they begin trading with the settlers di— rectly. A Shinnecoek casino would, in a sense, renew that direct exchange. The onwoods and Mohegan Sun ca— sinos are enormously successful, and their earnings have transformed the Indian na— tions that operate them. Before the Mo“ hegans started their business, they were a scattered group of mostly impoverished individuals. Now they are a model of or— ganized prosperity. If you could use a scholarship, health care, child care, or re— tirement benefits, it is far better these days to be Mohegan than it is to be American. Since the inception of the lUnited States, Indian governments have been recognized as sovereign entities, exempt from taxation. But the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 requires tribes to negotiate compacts with states in which they operate casinos, and those compacts almost always include a revenue—sharing agreement. Last year, the slot machines at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were the Connecticut government’s biggest private 42 THE NEW YORKER, DECEMBER I3, 2OIO source of revenue, yielding $362 million. Toxwoocls has eleven thousand employ- ees, making it one of the largest employ— ers in the state. Once a tribe is federally recognized, it is eligible to open a casino, and the prom~ ise of wealth attracts financial backers to pay for the necessary builders, lawyers, and lobbyists. The Shinnecocks have been pursuing recognition since 1978—-nine years before the Supreme Court ruled, in California V. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, that states have no authority to regulate gambling on reservations. In sup- port of their claim, they have submitted more than forty thousand pages of docu~ mentation substantiating their history and lineage. Meanwhile, tribes across the country have bloomed into thriving mime nations, while the Shinnecocks, as Lance-- lot Gumbs, a senior trustee, said, have re» mained ustuck in the Stone Age.” This summer, after thirty- two years, the Bureau ofIndian Affairs declared that the Shin necocks had met the seven criteria for federal acknowledgment, and that their petition had been provisionally approved; after a thirty-day waiting period, they would fit rally have tribal status. One of the trustees, Gordell Wright, described a cel- ebratory mood: “VVcie going to be doing a lot ofsinging and eating." But, a few days before the waiting period ended, a group calli ng itself the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs filed an objection with the Interior Board oflndian Appeals, arguing that “a new casino in Southern New York will mean job losses and higher taxes for Connecticut.” The group's spokesman re- fused to disclose anything about its mem— bership or its financing. The Shinnecocks were shocked, but their financiers of the past seven years, Marian Ilitch and IVIichael Malik, were not. The two have started casinos with, among others, the Little River Band of Ottawas and the Los Coyotes Band of Ca- huillas and Cuper’ios. “Every time we do this, some bogus front appears to delay the process," their spokesman, Tom Shields, told me. Both the Mohegans and the Pe— quots have denied any afiiliation with the Connecticut Coalition for Gaming Jobs, but, Shields said, “it’s obvious who benefits by having the Shinnecocks delayed.” Ilitch and Malik, for their part, have reportedly paid lobbyists more than a mil— lion dollars to meet on the Shinnecocks behalf with Governor David Paterson, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Senator Charles Schumer’s chiefofstaff; they paid another million to the Washington lob»- bying firm Wheat Government Rela— tions. But their investment is negligible compared with the potential payoff. Ilitch owns a casino in Detroit that grosses four hundred million dollars a year. “In the twenty-two years we’ve been involved with Indian gaming, so far, knock on wood, we’ve not had anybody fail in the process,” Malik said. he Shinnecock reservation is bordered on the north by Montauk Highway, a two—lane strip that stretches west from the more glamorous parts of Southampton. During the past three decades, since the Shinnecocks began selling tax—free ciga— rettes, it has become crowded with busi- nesses—*Eagle Feather, Rain Drops, True Native—that have turned the edge of the reservation into a kind of theme park of In— dianness and smoking. The largest of them, the Shinnecock Indian Outpost, has two totem poles in the parking area, and sells cigarettes, moccasins, and lobster rolls. There are also Navajo blankets, toy toma~ hawles made in Korea, and many varieties of dreamcatchers. Cumbs built the store on his mother’s land allotment, and is re— garded as one ofthe most successful entre— preneurs in the tribe. On the day I visited him, Gumbs was wearing a button-down shirt with eagle feathers embroidered on the breast pocket, a gold necklace with a bear—claw charm, a big, gold—toned watch, and an 7; .-_Ilml-IIII__IIIfl-‘I_m-—__ assertive cologne. He is fifty years old, with a long black braid down his back, and he speaks at an unusual volume. In the deli section of his store, Gumbs told me that he grew up “on the powwow trail,” visiting other reservations through— out the East for festivals and ceremonies. “I saw true governments in action," he said. “Whether it was education, whether it was health care—will ofthese things that we’re talking about now—other tribes were doing that back then. And it always baffled me as to why we felt like we were there, when we were lighteyears behind.” Gumbs has long been the tribe’s most vocal advocate of gaming. “I guess that was the motivating factor, and just listen- ing to the other men in the community saying, ‘Damn, we don't have nothing!’ ” Gumbs led me out of the store so that we could talk in private. We passed a se— ries of burgundy cottages where: children were playing with a baby raccoon in the yard, and walked toward a two~story building with a wooden Indian standing guard out front. Inside was room the size ofa high—school gym, where Gumbs’s yellow Hummer was parked next to a forty—fivefoot RV. There was a bar in one corner, and the walls were decorated with Mylar tassels. High overhead was Gumbs’s booth, where he spins rece ords when he rents out his cavernous bachelor pad for parties. “Even though our children went to the public school, the majority of them were behind all of the ethnic groups. VWe’re be— hind even the Latinos now!” Crumbs said. “You have these two tribes that spring up miraculously out of thin air right around us and create two of the largest casinos in the world." He did not believe that the Mohegans had anything to do with the Connecticut Coalitions efforts to sabo— tage the Shinnecocks, but he wasn’t con— vinced about the Pequots. Crumbs said that if he found out that any Indian nation was involved he would consider it an act of war. “We will go after them just like they came after us," he said. I asked him if he meant by creating competition. “There’s a lot of other ways,” he said, ominously, “but I’m not going to get into that." Gumbs has been elected trustee eight times, and in that capacity has taken requests from dozens ofprospective inves- tors. In 2003, he helped make a deal with a man named lvy Ong to develop a casino 44 THE NEW YORKER. DECEMBER IS, 2010 and resort hotel. The trustees chose Ong from many suitors, Gumbs said, because “being Chinese, he had a great apprecia- tion and understanding of cultural values and cultural issues.” (Gumbs is a firm be— liever in ethnic profiling. A few days after our meeting, l received an e—mail from him asking why I didn’t have children: “Is it as I’ve been told a]ewish woman’s lack of interest in sex‘P") Though the Shinne- cocks lacked federal recognition, they planned to build a. sixty—fiveethousand— square-foot facility in Hampton Bays, on an idyllic eighty—acre parcel of beachfront woodland that the tribe holds. Orig in— tended to run a bus directly there from Chinatown in New York City. When this plan became public, it re— vived a dispute that has persisted for al— most four hundred years. The Town of Southampton, the oldest English settle- ment in New York, was established, when colonists purchased eight square miles of land from the Shinnecocks in 1640. In ex~ change, the Shinnecocks received corn from the settlers first harvest, cloth coats, and a promise that particular areas would be reserved for their use; it was also agreed that the English would “defend us the sayed Indians from the unjust Violence of whatever Indians shall illegally assaile us." This arrangement held until 1703, when the tribe sold its remaining land, for the price of twenty pounds, plus a thousand- year lease on a parcel that included thirty— six hundred acres known as the Shinne— cock Hills. The two groups cohabited fairly happily for the next hundred and fifty years, though the settlers complained that their livestock kept falling into holes that the Shinnecocks dug to store food through the winter. In the middle of the nineteenth cene tury, wealthy New Yorkers began to transform the area from farmland into a seaside resort. In 1859, a consortium of investors petitioned the state to break the Shinnecocksl lease, and an agreement was sent to Albany, signed by twenty—one members of the tribe. According to the Shinnecocks, the document was forged; some of the signatories appeared twice, and others were tribe members who had died. Days later, the tribe sent another pe— tition to Albany in protest. The state leg' islature approved the transaction anyway, and the Shinnecocks were reduced to their current land base. They became the servant class of Southampton, cleaning homes, cooking, and caddying at the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Over the years, the tribe has tried by various legal means to reclaim the land, whose value has been assessed at $1.7 bile lion. Marguerite Smith, the first member of the tribe to become an attorney, told me, “I went to law school with the mes- sage from the elders ‘You have to do something for your tribe.’ When I finished, they said, "You go and get those hills.’ " But Gumbs and others on the res ervation have argued that the land, most of which is now privately owned, will never be reclaimed through the courts. The tribe will have to buy it back, and the casino will provide the means. “We lost our land through white man’s greed, and we’re going to get it back through white man’s greed," Fred Bess said. At the time ofthe Hampton Bays de— velopment, Ginan and the two other Shinnecock trustees took out a series of full'page ads in the local papers, trying to drum up enthusiasm for a casino. They hired a public—relations firm and started a Web site. (“FAQQTraflic is a big problem in our region. W on’t this add more traffic congestion? A: Any Indian gaming facil— ity would be part of the traflic solution, not part of the problem.”) On Match 5, 2003, they held a press conference in the woods, alongside a phalanx of bulldozers. “This is about the preservation ofour peo~ ple," a trustee named Charles Smith an— nounced. Then the Shinnecocks held a “turtle walk," a procession through the forest to relocate box turtles so that they wouldn’t be crushed. The machines rumr bled after them. When they were finished, a five~acre chunk had been denuded, and many peo— ple in Southampton—and on the reserva— tion—were horrified. “That was ridicu— lous—you don’t make a political statement with a bulldozer," Pastor Mike Smith told me. “You don’t go desecrating one of the most pristine pieces of property on the East End of the island out of pure greed, which is all that was, because then you lose all credibility and integrity about being, quote unquote, stewards of the land." Sev— eral environmental groups sprang up to oppose the project, and Patrick Heaney, the town supervisor at the timc,.,accused the tribe of trying to “absolutely destroy the community character not only of I Iamp- ton Bays but ofall of Southampton.” Gumbs was irate. “Nobody asked us 46 Advertisement 8 OKMA’RKS THE NEW YORKER PROMOTION DEPARTMENT lNVITES YOU TO LOOK FOR THIS RELEASE. 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Not long after the Hampton Bays debacle, the Seminole tribe submitted a statement to the B.I.A., claiming that its partnership with Ong had cost nearly twenty million dollars in fines and lost income. Ong was ‘ sentenced to more than three years in ‘ federal prison. But in Guml s’s view Ong was never the antagonist; his neighbors were. “The elders thought, VV ell, we have a good re— ‘ lationship with the town and they're our friends," Gumbs said. “I said, ‘You don’t understand! This is the new Southamp~ ton. You’ve got new money, new people. . They don’t give two craps about the Shinnecock Indian Nation.’ " He added, “The old Southampton, yes, there was probably a lot ofmutual respect and un— ‘ derstanding there—even though we i were the housemaids and the dishwash- ers and the lavwnucutters. Of course you’re going to have a nice relationship if you’re the servants. Yer, rub, maria/9.” In any case, Southampton's opposition to a ca- sino in Hampton Bays galvanized the : Shinnecocks, which some members of the tribe think was Gumbs’s intention all along. he acquisitivc ethos of the Hamp— tons, where even the purchase of a ‘ copper taucct is an opportunity for self— expression, does not extend to the reser- ‘ vation. The Shinnccoclcs’ professed values are communal and anti—materialist, and “for the benefit of the tribe” is a kind of mantra. The Shinnecoclcs could sell even a small piece of their reservation for mil- lions of dollars, but to do so would be un— thinkable. Every decision the tribe makes ‘ is meant to be in service of the collective ‘ and the land. “We don‘t separate ourselves from our ‘ surroundings," the trustee Cordell Wright newyorkeronthetown.com i told me. “That‘s a connection that native people have to the land itself. lt’sjust, like, you.” Wright, who is thirty—eight, was brought up in New York City and in Ger— many and did not move to the reservation until he was an adult, yet his passion for the place is his primary qualification for leadership. The tnisteeships are volunteer positions; Wright is currently unem— ployed, having lett his job as a delivery man for Home Depot. The Shinnecocles“ group—mindcdness has been reinforced by the process ofape plying for federal recognition, which en— tails an exhaustive inquiry into who be- longs to the tribe. The BIA. requires proof that every person listed as a tribe member is the direct descendant of someone who lived on the reservation in 1865. According to the tribe’s own pol— icy, babies born to Shinnecock mothers are automatically included on the tribal roll. But ifa baby’s parents are unmarried and only the father is Shinnecock the child is ineligible for enrollment. “There’s a saying,” Fred Bess told me. “Mama’s baby, Papa's maybe." The question of legitimacy has been particularly vexed, because most members of the tribe do not look the way American Indians are expected to look. “That’s what this whole federal— recognition process has been about,” Roberta 0. Hunter, a Shinnecock law~ yer, told me. “Are you who you say you are? Are you really authentic?" Hunter majored in anthropology at Benning— ton, and she said that in the twenties scholars got “interested in the ‘red man’ and the ‘vanishing race,’ and everybody raced out West.” The academics, she suggested, were in pursuit of motion— picture Indians. “Those stereotypes of who’s an Indian and who isn’t an Inv dian, those were based on all those groups west of the Mississippi. I don’t look anything like that,” Hunter, who has dark skin and kinky hair, said. Anxiety about being perceived as insufficiently Indian was one of the rea— sons that it took the Shinnecocks so long to gain federal recognition. The B.I.A.’s history of the tribe’s efforts at recognition is shot through with allusions to its am~ bivalence. “I don’t think the Shinnecocks are much interested in petitioning,” the executive director of the Indian Rights Association wrote to the Office of Fed— eral Acknowledgment in 1984. “I think they believe they've managed all right so far, and they’re not anxious to diddle around with a system that is working.” lCSS ap~ en— be— ires 'ibe 1 in )ol— rers ibal TiCCl the :re's na’s has Lost the i to ral— ut,” aw— you iter ng— ties iany ody she one s of In— ose on’t vho i as rea— ong ) tion am— acks the ghts red- ."lll’lk it so ddle 77 fig. 5 Some tribe members were feaiful of sub- mitting to the process. “You had people who were older that were just, like, ‘Be quiet. Don’t make any waves,’ 7’ Hunter told me. “There was a voice that said if you step up you’re going to get knocked down, because you know theyjust think we're a bunch of niggers." Long Island’s Native Americans have been marrying African—Americans since the seventeenth century, when the Dutch started bringing slaves into New York. john Strong, the premier historian of Na- tive Americans on Long Island, told me, “Slave status was defined by law in terms of the woman—a child becomes the property of the mother's owner. If you’re a slave and you want to make sure your children are free, you many an Indian woman.” But if slave status was defined by ma— ternity, racial status was defined by color. “If the father was black and the mother was Indian, or vice versa, and the child comes forward with a claim to Native American identity, the white arbiters say, ‘Oh, no, you can’tump up a notch in the hierarchy—you’re black,’ " Strong said. “When I came here, in ’65, you’d go in any of the local bars and they would talk about the Shinnecocks as ‘monigs’: more nigger than Indian.” It’s a slur that you still sometimes hear in the lHamptons. Hunter and Lance Gumbs represent a generation of Shinnecocks who came of age in the sixties. College—educated and influenced by the era’s movements for social justice, they started to question what the tribe was entitled to. “I really had such a vision about being able to come back to this community,” Hunter told me. “I said, How perfect is this? Be— cause you’ve got a landmass, which is what so many other groups"—— the Black Panthers, lesbian separatists, certain pas— sionate vegetarians—“wanted: a place to really infuse with whatever those cultural values were.” But Hunter feels that that kind of ide— alism has not prevailed. She calls Gumbs a “real exploiter,” and says that the proces- sion ofcigarette shops on lVIontauk High— way is the result of unregulated greed. “Nicotine, the most addictive substance that we’ve got going on—this is what we want to hold up as our sovereign right?” she said. Though she has no objection to the idea of a casino, she feels that the way Gumbs and others have pursued their ob— jective has been unethical. “WhatI am al— ways focussed on is process,” she told me. “Are you having full participation of our membership? Do you have accountability and transparenqz? No.” Every major decision that the Shinne— cocks make is put to a vote before the en— tire tribe. But elections can be compro— mised. For many years, the annual votes for tribal trustees were public, and, many Shinnecocks told me, there was retribu- tion for the wrong vote and bribery for the right one. “All of this to me is so con— nected to why things are still so screwy here, and you can have someone get elected like Lance Gumbs,” Hunter said. In 1992, Hunter was elected to the South~ ampton Town Board, and is the only nonwhite person to hold elected oflice in the town. She has also run for the oflice of tribal trustee three times, but no woman has ever been elected. Gumbs believes that he is putting his tribe first. too. He thinks that the profits from the casino should be used to develop infrastructure and improve education; his priority, he told me, is avoiding the cre— ation of a welfare state. “You cannot take vast sums of money and put it in some— body’s hands who’s never had money and expect them to know what to do with it,” he said. Some tribes pay out casino profits in per-tapita disbursements, which can be substantial; the Chumash Indians ofCal- ifornia, for example, reportedly received $428,969 apiece in 2005. As the prospect of a casino has become increasingly bright on the Shinnecock reservation, an unusual number of people have been contacting the enrollment office. “Everyone is com— ing out of the woodwork,” Winonah Warren, the seventy-one—year—old presi— dent of the board of directors at the Shin— necock museum, told me. “Oh, everybody wants to be Shinnecock now.” ne night in August, Pastor Mike Smith sat shirtless in denim cutoffs in a sweat lodge in the woods behind a cousin’s house. Twenty people, most of whom were drumming and chanting with ferocious abandon, were packed in tight around a pit of red—hot rocks under a frame of branches draped with heavy blankets. Though Pastor Mike, as every— one calls him, is a Christian, he comes to these traditional ceremonies once a month. He does not join in the chanting or the drumming, just the sweating and, silently, the praying. He prays that he will stay sober, as he has for the past twenty- four years. He prays that the young peo— ple in his tribe will resist the drugs being sold down at Cutfee’s Beach. And he prays for the men selling the drugs, who, after all, are Shinnecock, too. Pastor Mike is against gaming. “VVe’re already dealing with alcohol and drugs, and we’re dealing with it over pennies,” he said, when the ceremony was fin— ished. “Can you imagine What would happen with the influx of cash?” Organi— zation and discipline, he believes, are what’s missing from his community, not money. “If you look at Mashantucket, if “Yau’re desperate—I like t/mz‘. ” you look at Mohegan, if you look at any— place that has a casino, the only thing you hear about is the glorification of the wealth,” he said. “They don’t talk about the social upheaval that comes as a consequence." Pastor Mike is a traditionalist When the women of Shinnecock gained the right to vote in tribal elections, in 1992, he was one of only four men to vote against it. Smith, who is sixty—one, is nostalgic for the reservation that he grew up on. He remembers “sleeping out in the woods as kids,” and a sense of absolute free— dom, safety, and belonging. “Look out there," he said, motioning toward the green expanse in the moonlight. “What more do you need?" But Gumbs is not alone in thinking that the tribe has more to lose by remain— ing poor than it does by risking radical transformation. Robin Weeks, who for many years sat with Hunter, Gumbs, and Bess on the Shinnecock Economic De— velopment Committee, has been a strong proponent of gaming. He grew up with his mother, who is blind, and five siblings, in a house on the reservation that had no running water. “We had an old potbelly stove with coal and wood and whatever else we could burn——newspapers, old clothing," he told me. “Sometimes it would get so cold in the house the water would freeze and we’d have to put it on the stove to heat it up so we could wash for school.” Weeks was born in 1955. “I tell people, ‘You can see all of these things—the pump, the outhouse—in old movies. This is what I grew up in.’ "’ Weeks is now a senior admissions ad~ viser at Stony Brook University. While completing a graduate degree in educa- tion, at Hofstra, he studied abroad, and the experience was transfiumative: “I got to travel all over Europe, and it just opened up the world to me. I could al— ways see it from a distance in terms of looking across the water at all the mil— lionaires in their mansions—I always saw a glimpse of it, but] was never a part of it. I wanted to bring this back to my community; there’s more to life than we saw growing up, than struggle and sad- ness and violence." Weeks attended pub— lic schools in Southampton——as most Shinnecocks have since their one—room 48 THE NEW YORKER, DECEMBER [3, ZOIO schoolhouse closed, in 1951—and he worked as a janitor at lunchtime and after school. “I saw that there was unfair— ness,” he said. “] saw that there was in— equality. .And, in fact, by the time I was fourteen I got involved in some very neg— ative, destructive things. Looking back now, it seems like a rite of passage: the more you could drink and the more you could fight, the more of a man you were." Today, the words “rez mob” are scratched into chairs and bathroom stalls at Southampton High School. In 2006, a group of college students who were home for the summer in Southamp» ton were assaulted in one of their families’ back yards. One of them told me, “A. group of guys, thirty of them from the reservation, walked into the yard and started attacking everyone. They had a problem with some white kid who wasn’t even there.” Though the attackers wore bandannas over their faces, he rec~ ognized one ofthern as someone he had, known since childhood. “The first thing I did was say, “What’s going on, man, what are you doing'?’ And he just started swinging at me." In 2007, in the largest codrdinated law—enforcement effort in the history of Suffolk County, state troopers and. DEA. agents raided the reservation and arrested fourteen people for possessing guns and selling heroin, marijuana, and cocaine. One of the young men incarcer— ated after the raid was Awan Gumbs, Lance Gumbs‘s son, who had been con- ducting at least part of his business from his fathers deli. This past August, a seventeen-month-old baby named Roy Jones was punched to death on the reser- vation, allegedly by his mother’s boy—- friend, who explained, “I was trying to make him act like a little boy instead ofa little girl." Pastor Mike thinks the problems per-- sist because of“an attitude that because this is a reservation we’re untouchable, so we can do whatever we damn well please and there are going to be no conse-- quences.” He tells his congregation, “Our problem isn’t employment; it’s employ— ability." I asked him if he thought the Shinnecocks should have their ovm tribal police force once they’ve gained federal recognition, and he laughed. “Some folks would say fine, but, see, I know us,” he said. “I know us. And I wouldn’t trust no— body with a gun.” ne day this fall, Lynn Malerba, the first female chief of the Mohegans, spent the morning meeting with Con- necticut’s gubernatorial candidates, and then visited her parents for coffee at the retirement home that her tribe built with casino profits. “ There’s a gym downstairs, and a Wii,” Malerba said, walking through the bright entry hall. Malerba’s mother showed me her apartment: the laundry room, the two bathrooms and bedrooms, and the view of a courtyard of well—tended rhododendrons and hostas. In the eighties, she was among a group of Mohegans who pooled their money to pay for the tribe's only telephone: “We hooked it up in the church closet!” Malerba drove to the Mohegans’ burial grounds, past dozens of kids holding ten- nis racquets and baseball bats, on their way to camp—which the tribe pays for, along with day care for the children of its mem— bers and employees. Nearby is a huge glass building, overlooking miles of countryside, that the Mohegans are erecting to house their government and cultural offices. At the tribal museum, a team is working on reconstructing the Mohegan language. The wealth generated by Mohegan Sun pays for the tribe’s health care and college scholarships, too, and for assistance to first-time homeowners. Each tribe mem— ber also gets a cash payment; Malerba told me that the amount was “a private family matter.” Malerba said that she hoped the Shinnecocks succeeded in opening at ca— sino, even if it hurt her business. “VVe’re ten miles away from the Pequots, and we’ve been able to coexist,” she said. “I could never take that philosophical stance, to fight another tribe. Wouldn’t that be disingenuous to say that we as tribal nations are all one, and to then work aggressively against a tribe achiev- ing economic independence as we have been able to do?” The Mohegan nation is like a tiny Scandinavian country—a peaceable king~ dom where the young are educated, the old are cared for, and everyone has help with medical care and housing. “Casinos are great in terms ofan economic engine and if the revenues are provided for good purposes,’y Malerba said. She sounded just e " have a business or not, you always have to sands of people shopped for wampum evil.” be really careful about how you choose jewelry and stood in line for succotash and Lance Gumbs, Cordell Wright, and your leaders," she said. fry bread while they waited to watch the the third trustee, Randy King, wore eagle— le traditional dancers and drummers. Pastor feather headdresses, pelts, and beaded, 5, his fall, a judge dismissed the Con— Mike sold soda with the medicine man, a purple—fringed tunics, as they led a pro- 1- necticut Coalition’s petition, and the friend of his. cession of Indians from across the North— ld Shinnecocks became the five-hundred— Pastor Mike introduced me to his cast. A representative from the Mashan— 16 L and~sixtyeflfth federally recognized tribe. aunt, who wore a deer-hide dress and a tucker Pequots stoodjust behind Gumbs; fh Gumbs e—mailed me, “This Nation of necklace of shells. She told me that in the war had apparently been averted. AS peo- 78, people will always remember October 1st, early fifties the Great Cove Realty Com- ple chanted and danced for hours, Harri- 1g 2010, as our independence day,” and pany tried tobuild a subdivision on a strip ett Cripan Gumbs, Lance’s mother, sat 1’5 signed off with a celebratory “Ah! Ho!" of the reservation Great Cove got as far selling silver jewelry and children’s toma- 36 The tribe can begin construction on a cae as pouring foundations before the trust- hawks, next to the Sno-Cone stand. De~ 1d sino as soon as it negotiates a compact ees, indudingher husband, persuaded the spite the economic transformation that :1 0f with the state. Until then, the annual district attorney to intercede and the de- casino would likely bring, she did not 13- powwow remains the Shinnecocks’ only velopers were forced to abandon the proj— think federal recognition was going to 0f source of tribal income. ect. The memory of it pleased her. “lVIy change anything. “You’ve got to know the to At one difiicult point in the nineties, husband worked in a restaurant kitchen, white man wants this reservation,” Crip- VC 1 the powwow was rained out two years in and one night the Great Cove guy came pen Gumbs said, her white hair shooting a row, and all services had to be suspended in drunk and said, Tm going to kill that out from under abaseball cap. “You know 1'31 owing to lack of funds. But this year the savage‘.’ ” she recalled. “Those were the what their excuse would be now?” she in— weather was crisp and bright, and there kinds of things that happened. It sounds asked, and leaned in close over herjewelry my was a line of cars along Mon tauk High- strange, but we were poor but happyeeall counter. MYou’ve intermarried too much. mg way waiting to turn onto the reservation. one big family. maybe four hundred of You’re no longer lndian.’ Well, who the me On the powwow grounds, a cleared field us.” She wrinkled her nose. “Now they’ re hell are we?” 9 tass .de, W 7 7 7 iffiii‘ii’ifiii use At on Lge. Sun tege 3 to am— told nily the tea Ie’re and :i. “I Lical ldn’t Ie as then 1iev— have Between the endless parade of famed authors, poets, pirates and playwrights, and mindbending sunsets serving; as the daily curtain call, The Keys have always had a flair for the dramatic. tmy . V, . {ing— ‘ghe Honda Keys elp sinos & igine ,_ .. come as you are” good flat—key )m 1»800~FLA—KEYS djust one cautionary note. “Whether tribes behind the Community Center, thou— out for money. l\loney is the root of all THE NEW YORKER, DECEMBER I3, 20lO 49 ______—— ...
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  • Spring '11
  • Cherney
  • new yorker, Southampton, Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Shinnecock Indian Nation, Shinnecocks, Shinnecock Reservation

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A Tribe stakes its Identity on a Casino - in the Hamptons -...

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