The decision Tuesday on the federal recognition of the Shinnecock Indian Nation was greeted with support from residents and elected officials in Southampton and elsewhere on Long Island.

Questions remained, however, about the future resolution of land claims made in the past by the tribe as it worked to open a gaming casino.

Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, scheduled to go to the reservation Wednesday to congratulate tribal officials, said she believed those land claims would ultimately be resolved at the state or federal level. She said they were likely to become part of negotiations over the tribe's opening of a casino in a location other than Southampton.

Still, those interviewed said they were pleased at the long-sought milestone the tribe has achieved.

"Wow, that's good news," said Southampton Village Mayor Mark Epley. "They've been working on this for a long time. I'm glad it's coming to a close. Now they can start making plans for the future of the reservation and the Shinnecock Nation." Epley's village shares a border with the reservation.

Lucas Merlo, 34, who just graduated from the marine science program run on Shinnecock Bay by Stony Brook University, shares the water with the tribe.

Merlo, who grew up in Rocky Point, said he agreed with the decision to recognize the tribe. And while he said he did not know the legal details, he does know the water, and the respect the tribe has for the natural world. "You look at the shoreline, and the reservation is all natural. Our side of the creek is all bulkheads and docks," he said.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-Southampton), an advocate for recognition, said the decision "rights a historic wrong" and will entitle tribe members to benefits that would "improve the standard of living on the Shinnecock Reservation and encourage responsible, sustainable economic development, which benefits our entire community."

A continuing dispute between the local community and the Shinnecock Tribe has been over its plan to open a casino. That also led to a lawsuit when the tribe attempted to clear land in Southampton Town and build a bingo hall.

The tribe lost its case after the town sued in federal court to stop construction, but has vowed to appeal. There is also an unsettled tribal claim dating back more than a century because a group of investors persuaded New York State to break a lease and force the tribe onto its 800-acre reservation from a larger area covering 3,600 acres in Southampton Town.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter, whose town-owned Enterprise Park at Calverton is one of the sites mentioned for a possible casino, said Tuesday that he will wait for a solid offer before deciding to support such a project.

"Until somebody shows me how this benefits the town of Riverhead by putting a casino here, I'm not in favor of gambling," he said.

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Former Schecter school CFO sentenced … Aldi to open more stores on LI … Student absentees on the rise Credit: Newsday

Rex Heuermann in court ... Former Schecter school CFO sentenced ... Bethpage digging continues ... Harlem Hotel

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