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Cove Realty Site

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In 1952, The Great Cove Real Estate Company attempted to build houses on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation just south of Montauk Highway in an attempt to steal Shinnecock Land.

The final court decision in 1961 resulted in success for the Shinnecock Tribe, preserving the land as part of the reservation. The foundations for the houses can still be seen today.



The New York City-based Great Cove Real Estate Company attempted to build houses on the Reservation land just south of Montauk Hwy to steal Shinnecock Land.

The company began construction of several small houses on the land before the Shinnecock were able to mount an opposition. The tribe formed a committee, the Shinnecock Indian Community Group, secured a lawyer, and appealed to the Suffolk County District Attorney to evict the developers from tribal land.1

Families whose homes bordered on the Montauk Highway had their driveways and front lawns cut off from the highway by a bulldozer on a Sunday afternoon.  This cutting was done from West Gate Road along the Shinnecock Reservation land to the property of Mrs. Helen Bunn Hendricks, who had a vegetable stand on her front lawn.

When she was threatened, two Tribal members went to the home of Judge Hazelton in Southampton Village and got a restraining order to stop the bulldozer.  That was the end of the bulldozing action, but the lawsuit began.

Sometime during this process, foundations were actually built.2


Final court decision successful for Shinnecock Tribe relating to the Cove Realty Case. The judge ordered the County Sheriff to remove the defendant from the lands. He found that the land had been part of “a trade” in 1859, memorialized in state law.3 He provided;

a rule which would authorize individual citizens to obtain possession of Indian lands under any claim or pretense whatever, without sanction of government, and put them to slow and tedious process of action at law to recover such land, would be destructive of their rights and subversive of duties and obligations which government owes them.4

Land was returned to the Tribe and one of the buildings which had been built as a “model home” was moved to the Powwow grounds, where it serves as the Food House to the present day.2

  1. John Strong, We Are Still Here – The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Today, 1998, pp. 19
  2. David Bunn Martine, Shinnecock History Timeline, pp. 12
  3. Proposed Finding for Acknowledgment of the Shinnecock Indian Nation (Petitioner #4), 2009, pp.67
  4. Suffolk County Court 1/17/1955
  5. David Bunn Martine, Shinnecock History Timeline, pp. 12