Measure Paves Way For Montaukett Recognition


New York State Senator Kenneth LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced last week that both houses in the New York State Legislature had passed legislation to reinstate state recognition of the Montaukett Indian Tribe. The vote passed overwhelmingly in both chambers and now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

The tribe lost its recognition by the state in 1910 in the case of Pharaoh vs Bensen, when a judge declared the tribe to be extinct, despite the presence of several tribal representatives in his courtroom. In 1994, a state Supreme Court justice ruling on another matter called into question the “propriety” of the Pharaoh ruling.

In 2017, the governor vetoed similar legislation. However, since last year, the tribe’s representatives have met with the governor’s legal team to provide additional information relating to state recognition.

“Prior to 1910, the Montaukett Indians were recognized by New York State as a tribe,” said LaValle in a release. “The designation was improperly removed from them in 1910, and it’s time the Montaukett Tribe receives the appropriate recognition. I am pleased that we were able to obtain the approval of the measure from both the Senate and the Assembly.”

“I’m delighted that the Senate came through in the 11th hour to vote in favor of this important measure, following the Assembly’s approval,” said Thiele in a release. “I thank Senator LaValle for his significant efforts to move this legislation forward. The Montaukett Indian Nation is alive and thriving, and I’m proud the state is finally correcting a grave injustice.”

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