Shinnecock Tribe challenges developers after skeletal remains are found

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Members of the Shinnecock Tribe are raising money to keep developers out after skeletal remains were found at a Southampton development site. 

On Aug. 13, a construction crew unearthed the remains of a Shinnecock man at a property on Hawthorne Road. Rebecca Genia believes the remains are likely three centuries old.

"We knew it was our ancestor and Suffolk County Homicide kept saying, ‘We have to make sure it's not an MS-13 murder scene,’” said Genia. “It was kind of insulting from Day One."

Crews have stopped construction, and since the discovery, Genia and a group of Shinnecock members have been leading the charge to buy the land. 

The town of Southampton officials told News 12 that the town has offered to buy the property from the unidentified owner, but contracts haven't yet been finalized. This group is hoping to raise money to help purchase the property and prevent the unearthing of other graves in the area.

"I can't go into other people’s cemeteries and play golf on their graves or take a shovel and start digging up because I'm going to put my house there. That's crazy talk. And why is it acceptable to do this to indigenous people of Long Island?" asked Genia. 

The tribe says with the continued development of the East End, it's inevitable that builders will come across more remains. They want legislation that protects the sacred ground that is their ancestors' final resting place. 

The town of Southampton says the public hearing is slated for Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. at Southampton Town Hall.

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