Indigenous Community Leaders Discuss Environmental Concerns In Shinnecock Bay

Dec 4, 2020

Native American community leaders on Long Island met this week to discuss the environmental impact of overdevelopment. That’s as Indigenous fishermen are still reeling from a record fish kill for the second year in a row in Long Island bays.

Becky Genia is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. She said the town of Southampton needs to take responsibility for its pollution of Shinnecock Bay.

"All of this is about profit and making money. And I asked the board of Southampton, can you eat your money?" Genia said.

Southampton officials will consider a multimillion-dollar underwater pipe that would flush polluted water out of Shinnecock Bay. The water is polluted from worn-out septic tanks and stormwater runoff from Hamptons properties landscaped with pesticides.

Right now, New York State and Suffolk County offer programs to help cover the cost of updating septic tanks. But the tribes are concerned it could take years to see the environment improve.

"We’re talking about greed and profit. And the more we talk about it, the more people might realize that we can do something about it," Genia said.

The town of Southampton said in a statement that land preservation is already among their top priorities, too. The town purchases land each month for protection determined by its preservation committee, which has a member from the Shinnecock nation.

There is also a moratorium on construction in Shinnecock Hills to preserve ancient burial grounds.