Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation held a peaceful protest at a Southampton housing development that they believe could be an ancient burial site.
More than 60 protestors gathered in front of the construction site, which is located in the Shinnecock Hills near the sacred burial grounds.
Members of the tribe want a thorough archaeological study to prevent graves from being disturbed.
Tela Troge, a lawyer with the Shinnecock Nation, says Southampton didn’t follow proper protocols when it approved the housing development.
“The town of Southampton should follow their own laws. They need to notify us so that we can tell them this is a very sensitive site, this is a very important site, and you can’t desecrate it.”
Troge says the tribe wants legislation that protects burial sites from development to include stronger criminal penalties.
“It’s just a trauma we have to relive every single time this happens, and we put up a fight every single time this happens, but it shouldn’t be this way.”
Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman says he will review legislation with the Shinnecock to protect unmarked grave sites on private land, as well as the rights of developers and property owners.
“One of my biggest concerns is that if we come up with too onerous of a process, that developers – it would be unethical and potentially illegal – but my concern is that they would look the other way. And push the bones in a different direction, bury them, pretend like they never saw it.”
He apologized to the Shinnecock people this week for any potential threat to their ancestry.
Troge and Schneiderman spoke on WSHU’s The Full Story.