Lisa Goree, newly named chairwoman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

Lisa Goree, newly named chairwoman of the Shinnecock Indian Nation. Credit: Lisa Goree

shinnecock indian nation lisa goree

In a historic first, the Shinnecock Indian Nation has elected a woman, Lisa Goree, as chairwoman of the Southampton tribe.

Goree, who grew up on the reservation, takes over from trustee chairman Bryan Polite, who is stepping down midterm. 

While the nation has had women trustees, it’s the first time since the council of trustees government was formed as part of New York State law in 1792 that a woman has held the chair post.

Shinnecock women were not even allowed to vote until 1994 under the trustee government forced on the tribe by the state.

“Right now I'm feeling excited and overwhelmed, to say the least,” said Goree in an interview Wednesday. “I'm ready to move my nation forward and represent my tribe in a positive manner and continue to make the ancestors proud.” 

Goree, who is the town assessor for Southampton Town, where she has worked for more than 20 years, said she “never gave any thought” to the notion of being the first woman chair of the tribe while running for office, but said, “I believe in destiny. I went to prayer a lot during this process and if that's what God has in store” she's ready for the role. 

She said her position in Southampton Town could help foster good relations between the town and the tribe. “It helps to know the players on both sides,” she said. 

The tribe has “a lot on our plate and I'm looking forward to being brought up to speed on a lot of issues and taking the reins from there … I definitely have some big shoes to fill.” 

The Tuesday election also saw the return of Lance Gumbs, the longtime tribal leader who has previously service as chairman, as vice chairman.

The tribe also elected Linda Franklin as sunksqua and Daniel Collins Sr. as sachem. Both are ceremonial leadership roles fulfilled by respected tribal elders.

Goree, in filling the one-year vacancy, won 133 votes, beating another longtime tribal leader, Randy King, who won 103 votes, and Keith Arrindell Jr., who had 38.

Gumbs, who won 104 votes, beat Terrell Terry, who had 58 votes; Julian Pellecier, 55; and Kevin Eleazer, 53.

Gumbs called Goree a “very capable individual” who can “quickly jump in” to the leadership role at a time when numerous projects are advancing. The tribe recently announced plans to start construction on a gas station project on tribal land on Sunrise Highway, and has been pushing forward on cannabis projects for more than a year.

Gumbs said his plan as vice chairman is to increase wages for tribal members on the reservation, “getting them up to standard-living wages,” while pursuing economic development for the tribe.

He said the tribe also plans to move ahead with a nongaming convention center on its Hampton Bays property at Westwoods, while defending projects such as the Sunrise Highway billboards from an ongoing state lawsuit.

Goree and Gumbs join a list of existing trustees with staggered terms, including Germain Smith, Seneca Bowen and Bianca Collins.

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