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Hawthorne Site

Table of Contents
Introduction
History
Preservation
Land Loss

Introduction

On Monday, August 13th, 2018, skeleton remains were found during residential development on Hawthrone Road in the Shinnecock Hills. The developers and homeowners contacted the Southampton Town and Suffolk County police department, who quickly disturbed the ground further for evidence of recent criminal activity.

Along with human remains, a glass bottle from the 17th-century contact period was found, indicating a likelihood of the remains being of Native American descent with burial offerings.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation arrived on the site soon after the detectives with the goal of overlooking the development. If the remains are from Native descent, the tribe encourages the town to use it’s Community Preservation Fund to preserve the lot and respect the burial.

History

August 13th, 2018

27 East Article published August 14th by Valerie Gordon;

UPDATE: THURSDAY, 11:15 a.m.
On Thursday morning, Mike White, who is working with the property owner of 10 Hawthorne Road in Shinnecock Hills where skeletal remains were found on Monday, denied saying that the medical examiner told him that the remains were not of Native American descent.

He claims that the medical examiner told him that the medical examiner’s review of the remains were found to be inconclusive and could have possibly been a white male, or early settler.

ORIGINAL STORY

The Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Council met on Tuesday morning to discuss seeking a federal injunction against the Southampton Town and Suffolk County police departments to keep them from disturbing the site of the discovery of human skeletal remains at a construction site on Hawthorne Road in Shinnecock Hills on Monday.

Later in the week, Shinnecock leaders said the injunction wouldn’t be necessary after property owners agreed to wait for results on testing to determine if the remains were Shinnecock. The council was expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss hiring an archaeologist to examine the site.

According to Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs, police investigators were not following proper state and federal protocols for Native American sensitive sites and repeatedly denied his request to order the private work crew at the site to stop digging.

The remains, found buried on a wooded lot slated for private development at approximately 1 p.m. on Monday, were taken to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office to be studied by an anthropologist, who would determine the estimated age of the bones, according to Detective Sergeant James McGuinness of the Suffolk County Police Department.

On Wednesday, officials said they had determined that the bones were at least 50 years old, but could say little else about the remains.

Det. Sgt. McGuinness said if the remains are found not to be related to a criminal act, they would be returned to the Shinnecock Indian Nation.

When reached on Tuesday, Mr. Gumbs argued that the bones could possibly belong to that of a 17th century Shinnecock Indian tribal leader, noting that they were discovered along with a flask.

However, Michael White, who is partnering with the property owner, said on Wednesday that he had been told by the medical examiner that the remains were not of Native American descent. “Definitely not a Shinnecock ancestor,” he said.

Mr. Gumbs disputed the claim, and said he continued to believe the remains were Shinnecock, noting that the anthropologist’s review was inconclusive in determining ancestral origin.

“For them to just come out and say that it’s not one of our ancestors is basically to cover up their complete failure to observe protocols,” Mr. Gumbs said on Wednesday. “Our leaders were buried with those flasks. It was pretty clear that this wasn’t a crime scene.”

He added that the Southampton Town Board has routinely ignored the Tribal Council’s request to implement stronger laws against excavating sacred sites to protect them.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said on Wednesday that the Town Board recently met with several members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation to discuss setting aside monies in next year’s budget to put regulations in place.

Similar to the Town of East Hampton’s protocol, the Town Planning Board would map out sensitive sites throughout the town and would require, prior to construction, that an archaeological review be completed.

He added that an archaeologist would walk the site to look for clues indicating burial sites, such as stone circles or mounds. “That would be very valuable,” he said.

In the meantime, Mr. White said that construction on the house slated for the lot will remain on hold.1

  1.  http://www.27east.com/mobile/article.cfm/Hampton-Bays/566747/Skeletal-Remains-Found-At-Construction-Site-In-Shinnecock-Hills

Preservation

The Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Council met on Tuesday morning to discuss seeking a federal injunction against the Southampton Town and Suffolk County police departments to keep them from disturbing the site of the discovery of human skeletal remains at a construction site on Hawthorne Road in Shinnecock Hills on Monday.1

As of August 17th, the town of Southampton has expressed support in using its Community Preservation Funds to purchase the lot after assessment of the lot’s value.

On September 4th, a GoFundMe was created to raise funds for a remaining 50.000 needed to restore the lot.
img_5b93ebb79d957 Hawthorne Site Jeremy Dennis On This Site
https://www.gofundme.com/ytver

From the Go Fund Me: 

“URGENT! PLEASE HELP PROTECT AND PRESERVE ANCESTRAL GRAVE!

On August 13, 2018, we witnessed firsthand the desecration of a Shinnecock Indian ancestor’s grave and we were helpless to stop the digging and raking of bones initially deemed by local law enforcement to be part of a crime scene. This tore at our souls and we could only offer songs, blessings, and prayers to heal our ancestor and ourselves. Our ancestors rest in the Shinnecock Hills—their graves facing west, so they may enter the spirit world through the sunset with ease and join the Creator. Our elders have always asked us to protect our land and protect our ancestors’ burial sites. In this way our next generation may know where we come from and that they walk in the footholds of their ancestors who sacrificed everything for our survival. Now, we cannot protect and preserve that which is sacred without your help.

We have now confirmed that $50,000 must be raised for the Shinnecock Indian Nation to pay for the reburial of our ancestor’s skull, bones, and glass bottle unearthed on August 13, 2018 as well as site restoration at 10 Hawthorne Road in the Shinnecock Hills. Originally, the Nation was told we would need to pay $185,000 for various costs. We are so grateful that the Property Owner and the Town of Southampton have graciously met with us and in good faith agreed to limit the Nation’s contribution to $50,000 for the purpose of site restoration today, on September 7, 2018, in a meeting with Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

Please support the Shinnecock Indian Nation in raising $50,000 as an immediate need to preserve and protect our ancestors’ sacred burial site. If the goal is surpassed, the funds will go toward future preservation and long-term stewardship efforts for ancestral grave protection. For decades, we have pleaded with the Town of Southampton, Suffolk County, and State of New York to enact legislation and adopt protocols to prevent the desecration of ancestral graves. New York does presently have clear individual protections in place for graves found on private land unlike the policies of 46 other states. The time is now for us to achieve our elder’s directives and we hope you can join us. Tábūtní (Thank You).

Please read more about the efforts to protect the grave site and preserve the land below:

https://www.jeremynative.com/onthissite/listing/hawthorne-site/

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/shinnecock-hills-indian-remains-southampton-1.20848795

http://www.eastendbeacon.com/viewpoint-is-nothing-sacred-anymore/

https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/shinnecock-southampton-land-remains- 1.20813479

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/General-Interest-Southampton/566979/Town-Could- Buy-Shinnecock-Hills-Property-Where-Skeletal-Remains-Were-Found-With-CPF-Revenue

http://www.wshu.org/post/shinnecock-hope-buy-land-where-remains-were-found#stream/0 

http://www.27east.com/news/article.cfm/East-End/568365/Much-Confusion-And-Few-Rules- When-It-Comes-To-The-Discovery-Of-Native-American-Remains

https://indyeastend.com/news-opinion/south-fork/update-a-reveal-in-sacred-hills/

https://indyeastend.com/news-opinion/south-fork/shinnecock-asks-town-to-protect-graves/

  1.  http://www.27east.com/mobile/article.cfm/Hampton-Bays/566747/Skeletal-Remains-Found-At-Construction-Site-In-Shinnecock-Hills

Disruption and Vandalism

Hawthorn-Road-SkullIMG_8258-WEB-1024x683 Hawthorne Site Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Photo: Jeremy Dennis

According to Tribal Trustee Lance Gumbs, police investigators were not following proper state and federal protocols for Native American sensitive sites and repeatedly denied his request to order the private work crew at the site to stop digging.

“For them to just come out and say that it’s not one of our ancestors is basically to cover up their complete failure to observe protocols,” Mr. Gumbs said on Wednesday. “Our leaders were buried with those flasks. It was pretty clear that this wasn’t a crime scene.”1

 


 

Jo-Ann McLean, a Professional Archaeologist conducting Cultural Research Management on the East End for 30 years, and a Freelance Writer for The East End Beacon also wrote an article in support of preserving the lot and archaeological significance of the finding;

Viewpoint: Is Nothing Sacred Anymore? by Jo-Ann McLean September 7, 2018

Knowing full well that, during the construction of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in Southampton, intact Native American burial mounds had been converted to obstacles in front of some greens, while others had been converted into bunkers, I was nevertheless unmoved in 2000 by groups of picketing Native Americans claiming that the Parrish Pond development property, across the highway, south of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was sacred ground.  I clearly did not understand the message.

An archaeological survey declared the property generally non-sensitive for pre-contact materials. The term ‘sacred” under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) is equated to the rarest of finds, human burials, the only find that can stop construction.

For archaeologists conducting cultural resource management on lands slated for development in New York State, archaeological sensitivity resides in the physical presence of material culture…the concept of the sacred, in any form other than burials, had not yet made it into the mix. Thus, the land was given the go ahead for development.

That was nearly twenty years ago and little has changed out here since. European Americans are still land grabbing and the dominant European American culture is still dictating Shinnecock access to their traditional lands in one of the most highly segregated communities in the U.S.

In general the Indians remain poor and reservation constrained, where cancer, poverty and alcoholism have replaced small pox as a way of extermination. Even with federal recognition, the balance of power has not changed.

This has recently been demonstrated, once again, on Hawthorne Street, a wooded lot in an established neighborhood in the Shinnecock Hills. Many years ago, an adjacent property was designated “sensitive for archaeological remains” and nine of its acres were preserved, with the balance developed. And yet, the developer of the one-third acre on Hawthorne was not required to perform a Cultural Resources Survey under SEQR before excavation began.   

On August 13, human remains there were dismembered by a backhoe.

An associated artifact, an early 18th Century glass bottle, is clearly reminiscent of the early 18th Century burials at the famous Pantigo Site in East Hampton. Such sites are of enormous interest to archaeologists, who work to understand the life ways of Native groups on the East End of Long Island hundreds and thousands of years ago, but more importantly, they are sacrosanct to the Shinnecock Nation, a federally recognized tribe.

For the Shinnecock, the Hills that carry their name are hallowed ground. They simply want them protected, or at very best preserved.

At the heart of the Shinnecock struggle for sovereignty, self-determination, identity and religious freedom is a misunderstanding by the dominant culture of native belief systems and spirituality, which stems from the dominant society’s dismissal of the indigenous knowledge base and a lingering conviction in the inequality of races.

So while misconceptions about the significance of sacred sites such as the Shinnecock Hills suffice as the apparent reason that justice eludes Native Indians on Long Island, the more salient reason, even though the archaeology demonstrates a  clear and ancient connection to the land and its sacred components, is a deep disrespect for Native Indian culture as it is practiced here, and a palpable undercurrent of dominance, racism and distrust attached to the fact that the legitimacy of Native land claims may divest the wealthy of their holdings.

John Strong, Ph.D., the respected Long Island historian and author, has elsewhere delineated the negative stereotypes used to justify alienation of Native Americans on Long Island. The arguement that the tribe lacked racial purity was contrived by colonists as a category to divest the Shinnecock of their identity.  Therefore, marginalization was accomplished not simply based on eradication of the Shinnecock traditional life ways and lands. It was achieved by racial stereotyping about mixed blood categories.   

It seems that Native Americans simply couldn’t do anything right while maintaining their indigenous world view. Their cultural and spiritual ways were regarded as primitive, intermarriage with other ‘races’ denigrated Europeans’ conception of their ‘Indianness,’ and the tribe’s attempts at accommodation to colonists’ demands heralded a death knell to their traditional way of life.  Any excuse at all was seized, devised and invented to deny them their birthright.

Western categories such as racial stereotyping persists on Long Island, but the Shinnecock are reaffirming their traditional living culture to honor their ancestors and to fortify their traditions. They are again defining themselves in Indian terms, where blood quantum is not an issue.

Considerations of legitimacy should be behind them. They have gained Federal recognition, yet locally they remain powerless to protect the graves of their ancestors, which dot the Shinnecock Hills, and are being destroyed by construction or lie undisturbed in so many Southampton backyards.

The time has come for an Unmarked Burial Protection Policy in the Town of Southampton.  The time has come for the neighbors of the Shinnecock Nation to acknowledge the deference this ancient culture would garner were they not dispossessed of their land, were they still harvesting local resources and were they still, as custom dictated, ceremoniously burying their dead in the sacred Shinnecock Hills.

  1.  http://www.27east.com/mobile/article.cfm/Hampton-Bays/566747/Skeletal-Remains-Found-At-Construction-Site-In-Shinnecock-Hills

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