June 15, 2010
By DANNY HAKIM
ALBANY — The Obama administration approved the Shinnecock Indians on Long Island for federal recognition on Tuesday, culminating a court battle lasting three decades and paving the way for the tribe to build a casino in New York City or its suburbs.
While there is still a 30-day comment period before the matter is fully settled, the support of the administration all but assures the 1,292-member tribe’s recognition. The announcement, made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Tuesday morning, will almost certainly change the way of life for the relatively impoverished tribe, whose members live on 800 acres in Southampton, N.Y., in the midst of some of the nation’s wealthiest and most famous celebrities.
It will also touch off negotiations between the tribe and the state over casino gambling. With federal recognition, the tribe can build a Class II casino on its land that could have thousands of video slot machines but no table games.
But state and local officials have long been worried about the traffic implications of building a casino in the Hamptons, and the tribe would prefer to negotiate with the state and federal government to build a more lucrative Class III casino on land elsewhere that would be allowed to have table games. The state would share in the revenue of any deal.
The tribe had no immediate comment.
In December, after an initial ruling in favor of the tribe, Randy King, chairman of the Shinnecock trustees, said, “This recognition comes after years of anguish and frustration for many members of our Nation, living and deceased.”