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Town of Southampton designates day to honor Shinnecock Tribe

Courtesy of Shinnecock Indian Nation
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The Town of Southampton will dedicate a day in October to honor and recognize the Shinnecock Tribal Nation.

The Southampton Town Board has designated Oct. 1 as Shinnecock Heritage Day. The recognition was part of a resolution passed at a Feb. 15 local board meeting. Southampton will recognize “Shinnecock Heritage Day” beginning in 2024 and continuing every year after.

Tela Troge, a member of the Shinnecock Tribe, said numerous tribe members came to the town board meeting to support the adoption of this resolution. She said there was a feeling of happiness and excitement.

“It’s all very exciting and really a positive step forward in repairing a relationship that quite honestly has been damaged throughout the past 384 years of colonization,” Troge said.

The resolution was written and had unanimous support from everyone on the board. However, Troge said this effort was led by Councilmember Michael Iasilli. She said Iasilli has acted as a liaison between the Nation and the Southampton board.

“This recognition from our town has been a long time coming. While this recognition has been a small step towards acknowledgment and mutual respect,” Iasilli said.

Troge said they were asked to choose an important day for the tribe. They chose the date the tribe gained federal recognition from the U.S. Government. The tribe was federally recognized on Oct. 1, 2010

In an interview with WSHU, Iasilli addressed the history of how the Shinnecock Tribe has struggled with colonization and land disputes. He said the impacts and discussions regarding the Shinnecock’s sovereignty are still felt today.

“This is an important moment for Southampton. It also helps us get to trust and reconciliation to build bridges when we need it the most. It also allows us to have a collaborative relationship going forward,” Iasilli said.

Troge said the recognition is a great first step to make way for a new relationship between the Town of Southampton and the Nation. Iasilli said he wants to continue to develop the relationship with the Nation to address its needs.

“When we understand and appreciate each other’s past, each other's struggle, we recognize that our history and our story is a shared story,” Iasilli said.

Jeniece Roman is WSHU's Report for America corps member who writes about Indigenous communities in Southern New England and Long Island, New York.