Southampton Town seeks to buy land to preserve Shinnecock Nation burial ground

Southampton Town is looking to buy land considered sacred by the Shinnecock Indian Nation in an attempt to ensure it is never developed.

News 12 Staff

Jun 8, 2021, 7:55 PM

Updated 1,046 days ago

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Southampton Town is looking to buy land considered sacred by the Shinnecock Indian Nation in an attempt to ensure it is never developed.
The 4.5-acre piece of land sits right on Montauk Highway in Southampton.
About 40 years ago, a six-bedroom house was built on it. But for thousands of years before that, the property and much of the land in the area belonged to members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.
This particular parcel was used as a burial ground. The Shinnecocks consider this a place of honor.
Southampton Town officials are proposing to buy the property for about $5.5 million.
The nonprofit Peconic Land Trust would be the owners, and the town would purchase the development rights to the land, meaning it can never be developed. The Shinnecocks say that is the way it should be.
"It'll be a place where tribal members can go and reflect, be in tune with our ancestors' territory and go to reflect on all the things that mean so much to the Shinnecock people," said Bryan Polite, Shinnecock trustee chairman.
"We need to let our ancestors know that we care. And we need to save the hills and save our burial sites so that seven generations from now our great-great-great grandchildren will know that we still fought to have this place for them to go," said Shinnecock nation member Josephine Smith.
Pink Floyd co-founder and South Fork resident Roger Waters spoke on behalf of the deal, saying the land should never have been developed in the first place.
"We need to shed our supremacist, colonialist views, because there is only one Earth, and it's small and it's fragile. And we have to understand that the only way to save this planet and maintain the sustainability of life on it is to act collectively," said Waters.
The $5 million the town would spend comes from a special East End real estate tax. Anyone who buys a house or property in any of the five East End towns pays an extra 2% of the purchase price. That money is then set aside for land preservation.
The house will be torn down and work will take place to restore the property.


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