Montauketts Hope Pols Override Hochul's Veto of Recognition Bill
The governor vetoed the bill on November 17, which further outraged members of the tribe, since the decision came down during National Native American Heritage Month.
“Hochul signing Veto No. 61 on November 17, 2023 was not appropriate and a cruel act, which will be remembered in New York State history,” Montaukett Chief Robert Pharaoh wrote in response to the news.
If successful, the Montaukett Indian Nation would be the third Native American tribe on Long Island to win state recognition and the first to do so in more than two centuries. The state formally recognized the Shinnecock Indian Nation, whose territory is in Southampton, in 1792 and the federal government followed suit in 2010. The Unkechaug Indian Nation, who call the Poospatuck Reservation in Mastic home, were recognized by the state in 1777, but have not won federal recognition. The Shinnecock and Unkechaug are among nine tribes recognized statewide.
The bill Hochul vetoed would have effectively granted tribal recognition to the Montauketts, who have been fighting for acknowledgement since the tribe lost a Suffolk County court ruling in which a judge stripped them of their land and erroneously declared the tribe extinct in a controversial 1910 ruling.
Hochul cited the 1910 ruling in her veto message. The state Legislature passed the same bill five times and it has been vetoed each time.
State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (D-Sag Harbor) blasted the governor for her decision as well as her reliance on the court ruling that historians have decried as a racist miscarriage of justice.
“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it,” he said. “While I am ashamed of my state government today, it only reaffirms my commitment to insure the Montauketts receive the justice they so much deserve.”