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Shinnecocks' neighbors: Recognition is long overdue

The news that the Shinnecock Tribe was getting its long-sought federal recognition was well-received Wednesday by many of its neighbors.

Shoppers at the King Kullen supermarket in Hampton Bays and students on the Southampton College campus of Stony Brook University shared a common view that it was something that should have been done long ago.

"It is long overdue. We took everything from them. Not us, but our ancestors," said Joanne Collins of Shinnecock Hills. She was unsure precisely what will happen next but said it is likely that the tribe will be getting government aid and likely new income. "It will trickle down to someone's pocket," she said.

Several people expressed concern that a casino could be built on the Shinnecock reservation, something tribal leaders say is not in their plans.

"I'm opposed to a casino in Hampton Bays," said Jon Lieberman, who has lived in that community for more than 30 years. "If Riverhead wants it, they can have it."

Longtime civil rights activist Bob Zellner said the tribe's federal recognition was welcome news.

"This is wonderful and exciting," Zellner said. "It offers new opportunities and possible difficulties. There are problems that go with poverty and problems that go with prosperity. But the tribal elders will be able to keep things on an even keel."

Camellia Lleras, 21, of Bellport, who is studying history at the Southampton campus, said her school was already involved with the tribe in several ways.

She said the annual fall Shinnecock Pow Wow is a part of the school's orientation for new students, and that students make several visits a year to the museum and cultural center on the Shinnecock reservation.

Lleras said the federal recognition would help give the tribe a sense of identity. "It's a label, but everything has to have a label. Especially out here in the Hamptons," she said.

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