NY Again Seeks to Recognize Montauketts

Montaukett Stephen Talkhouse
Montaukett Stephen Talkhouse

New York State lawmakers have again passed legislation recognizing the Montaukett Indian Tribe, but it is unclear if Gov. Kathy Hochul will veto it like her predecessor had repeatedly done.

The bill would effectively reinstate tribal recognition that was stripped from the Montauketts in a Suffolk County court ruling in which a judge declared the tribe extinct 112 years ago.

“For no justifiable reason, the Montauketts were stripped of their status in 1910,” said state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk), who sponsored the bill with Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I-Sag Harbor). “The reinstatement of tribal status is long overdue and will correct generations of mistreatment.”

The state Legislature passed the same bill in 2013, 2017, and 2018, but then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed it, arguing the state Department of State (DOS) should conduct the administrative process and make the final determination despite legislative precedent of granting Indian nation recognition. Nearly a decade later, DOS has yet to make its determination.

Palumbo and Thiele, who point to the fact that the Montaukett Indians continue to thrive on the East End to the present day, urged Hochul to sign the bill into law.

The bill has yet to be delivered to the governor’s office for review. If it is signed, the tribe could seek federal recognition.

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