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Shinnecock Indian Reservation

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Table of Contents
Introduction
History
Artifacts
Translation
Location
Population
Name Variations
Language
Museum
Associated Sites
Land Loss
New England

Introduction

The Shinnecock Indian Reservation is a self-governing reservation. The reservation has a museum, shellfish hatchery, education center, cultural and community center, playground, and Presbyterian church. 

In 1972, the Shinnecock Native American Cultural Coalition (SNACC) was formed to establish a Native American arts and crafts program. Traditional dancing, beadwork, Native American crafts, and music are studied. The Cultural Enrichment Program is a sharing and learning process that the community has engaged in to ensure that the ideals and traditions of their ancestors are passed down through the generations. It involves sharing knowledge of food, clothing, arts, crafts, dance, ceremonies, and language.

Every Labor Day Weekend since 1946, the reservation hosts a powwow, based on ceremonies beginning in 1912. The Shinnecock Powwow is ranked by USA Today as one of the ten great powwows held in the United States. In 2008, the powwow attracted 50,000 visitors.

History

img_5743c79318986 Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

There were probably no Native peoples living in tribal systems on Long Island until the Europeans Arrived. Three tribal systems were developed later in response to the pressures from the expanding European communities.

No permanent social structure existed beyond these linguistic and kinship systems. On occasion, several villages might form temporary alliances to accomplish a limited goal, such as a military alliance against a common enemy or a large hunting expedition, but once the goal was reached, or hopelessly frustrated, the alliance quickly dissolved. Fears of “Indian conspiracies” frequently resulted in widespread hysteria during the latter half of the seventeenth century, but few of these military alliances ever posed a threat to the colonists. Shared religious ceremonies, which drew groups from some distance to a host village, were often viewed with great fear by some whites who suspected that a “confederacy” was being formed. The most common pattern of indigenous life on Long Island prior to the intervention of the whites was the autonomous village linked by kinship to its neighbors.1

  1.  Strong, J. (1992). The Thirteen Tribes of Long Island – The History of a Myth (Vol. 9). Hudson Valley Regional Review.

Artifacts

041.700x700 Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Scrub Brush / Pot Scrubber (Image from NMAI Collection)

 

Serviceable brushes for cleaning pots were made by splitting the end of a white oak stick into small splints, the process of whittling and splitting takes about half an hour for each scrub. Large brooms were also formerly made in this style. 1

  1. (M. R. Harrington, 1902: 39)
Wood "Idol" observed at Shinnecock by Rev. Azariah Horton, 1740s. Image from Gaynell Stone's Indian Place Names Map, 1991

Translation

Shinnecock is a neck of land, and the name may translate to ‘at the big neck.

This name supports the idea that the element –uniikw– means ‘neck of land.Tooker noted the Dutch spelling of the name [Mochgonnekonck1] (in the Munsee language, spoken on Manhattan), which is a key to the interpretation.

Munsee */mxwuníikwunk/ ‘at the big –uniikw-’ would be in SNEA (Southern New England Algonquian) */mhshuniikwuk/ (with /m(u)hsh-/ ‘big’, which is what Shinnecock is, with loss (in the language) or omission (by English hearers) of the whispered “m-”. (written here schwa [technically /O/] with “u” for convenience, following the Munsee practical orthography.)2

  1. Tooker, Indian Place Names of Long Island, 1911, pp. XXV, 136-8
  2. Ives Goddard, A Note on Shinnecock in Munsee, Email Corrispondance 2017

Location

img_572e129280da4 Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

The Shinnecock Indian Reservation is located between Hampton Bays and Southampton, NY, in the Suffolk County district. By 1859, the current borders of 800 acres (3.2 km2) were established. The reservation is three miles (5 km) west of the village of Southampton, New York.

The Shinnecocks were divided into many small bands, living in villages situated along the shores of Peconic Bay and North Sea and near the adjacent creeks and bays which indent the short line. They had a stockaded village or fort at Sebonac, near the site of the present National Golf Links where important traces of their habitation have been found. Numerous shell heaps and kitchen middens have revealed the remains of refuse, fragments of pottery, and other utensils, broken bits of antlers, bones of animals, arrowheads, fish hooks and occasional pieces of woven material which have enabled archaeologists to reconstruct the habits, customs and material culture of the aborigines. 1

View-of-Shinnecock-Reservation-Looking-South-Westerly-M.-R.-Harington Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

View of Shinnecock Reservation looking southwesterly (Neg no. 12540. Courtesy American Museum of Natural History. Photo: M. R. Harrington.) From Gaynell Stone The Shinnecock Indians – A Cultural History pp. 280

  1.  Bailey, P. (1949). Long Island; a history of two great counties, Nassau and Suffolk. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. pp 119

Population

In 1903, it had a population of 150. In 2012, the Shinnecock Nation numbered more than 1,400 people, with more than half residing on the reservation.

When settlers first arrived in the area in 1640, the Shinnecocks numbered around 2,000. They were skilled on the water, spear fishing for eel, harvesting shellfish from the bay and hunting whales from small canoes.

In the mid-19th century, New York State set aside an earlier agreement between the tribe and Southampton and reduced the reservation to its current size, a decision the tribe has never accepted.

By 1875, disease had reduced the reservation’s population to about 200. The following year, 10 Shinnecock men died helping to recover a freighter that had run aground offshore. News accounts said the loss marked the end of the tribe.

“The recent drowning of the Shinnecock Indians on board the wreck of the Circassian has nearly extirpated what was once a large and powerful tribe,” said an article in The New York Times on Jan. 11, 1877.1

Name Variations

Shinnecock: The contemporary name used for the land and tribe occupying the land.
Mochgonnekonck: The Dutch notation for Shinnecock.

Used in the following treaty:

“Before us the Director and Council of New Netherland appeared Wittaneymen, Sachem of Mochgonnekonck, declaring to be empowered by his brethren, named as follows, to wit Rochkouw, the greatest Sachem of Cotsjewaminck, Mamawichtouw, Sachem of Catsjeyick, Weyrinteynich, Sachem of Mirrachtauhacky, and said, as well in his own name as in that of his brethren aforesaid, that they had taken under their protection the villages named, Ouheyinchkingh, Sichteyhacky, Sicketauyhacky, Nesinckqueghacky, at which place the Matinnekonck now reside, and Rickouhacky, and request to walk in a firm bond of friendship with us and promised that the Christians should experience at the hands of his people, or of those above named villages, nothing but every kindness, and as a proof of their good disposition, they offered to go against our enemies, which he has done, and brought a head and hands of the enemy, and has agreed with us to aid our people from henceforth against the Indians our enemies, which we have accepted. In ratification of this treaty, we have given a present to the above-named chiefs, with promise not to molest them as long as he and the above-named villages remain in their duty, but to show them all possible friendship. In this testimony of the truth the original is signed by us, confirmed by our seal and handed to the chief, the seal being pendant thereto the 29 of May, 1645, in Fort Amsterdam, New Netherland” (Col. Hist. N. Y., vol. xiv., p. 60.)

Ruttenber mistakenly supposes the place to be unlocated and the Sachem Wittaneymen to be Takapousha. The brethren named show that they all belong at the east end. They were given a certificate of protection the previous year (1644) by the English, wherein Wittanaymen is spelled Weenakamin, thus proving that he was the Sachem of the Shinnecock, or Mochgonnekonck of the Dutch. 1

  1.  Tooker, W. W., & Chamberlain, A. F. (1911). The Indian place-names on Long island and islands adjacent, with their probable significations. New York and London: G.P. Putnam’s Sons. pp 136

Language

All of the original inhabitants of Long Island shared a common language root called “Algonquian,” which distinguished them from their Iroquois neighbors in what is now upstate New York. There are many correspondences between Shinnecock, Natick, and Narragansett in language dialect (more so than Delaware, Abnaki or Sauk). 1

The colonial peoples, in general, discouraged the survival of the language as a part of consciously destroying all vestiges of Indian culture. The language has not been entirely lost in spite of these efforts – The Shinnecock belong to the Algonquian linguistic family in the same sense the French belong to the Latin family. It appears to be very similar to the language spoken by the Mohegan-Pequot tribes (Bonvillain, 1980). 2

There was only one written source for the Shinnecock language: a Bible translated by a native man, Cockenoe de Long Island, in the mid-1600s.

Much of their traditional culture has survived and many ancient traditions are being revived by the youth, including language classes at reservation’s Wuneechanunk preschool.

  1. Harrington, M. R. (1924). An ancient village site of the Shinnecock Indians. New York. pp. 281
  2.  Stone, G. (1983). The Shinnecock Indians: A culture history. Stony Brook, NY: Suffolk County Archaeological Association. pp. 44

Museum

The Shinnecock Cultural Center & Museum is located on the edge of the Shinnecock reservation on Montauk Highway. The mission of the Shinnecock Cultural Center & Museum is to promote awareness, understanding and an appreciation of Shinnecock history and culture.

s275-k-no Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Shinnecock Culture Center & Museum

 

Established in 2001 as the only Native American owned and operated nongovernmental, not for profit, Native American owned and operated organization on Long Island dedicated to honoring the Ancestors and living history as Algonquin descendants.

The Museum features history spanning over the 10,00 years our people have inhabited this area now called Long Island. Built from Adirondack white pine, our facilities contains 5,000 square feet of exhibition space. Our Museum has recently added some new cultural material items to our permanent display. Originally on display at the Southampton Historical Museum in 2011, for their exhibition, 10,000 Years of Hunting and Fishing on Long Island, these items that help illustrate the different time periods of Shinnecock history: Paleolithic, Archaic, Woodland and Historic periods for their exhibition. Our Museum has now acquired these items for our main exhibit – A Walk with the People. 1

The Shinnecock presented a proposal to the Mashantucket Pequot in Connecticut, asking them to help with the financing for their museum. In 1997, the Pequots granted the Shinnecocks $200,000 for construction costs. Then the Shinnecocks turned to another Indian group, the Oneidas in upstate New York, for the design and construction of a “log cabin style” building. The Oneidas have a construction company, Beaver Creek Log Homes of Oneida, which specializes in traditional log cabin structures using Adirondack white pine logs harvested from reforested farmland. 2

  1. https://www.facebook.com/ShinnecockMuseum/info/?tab=page_info

  2.  Strong, J. A. (1998). “We are still here!”: The Algonquian peoples of Long Island today. Interlaken, NY: Empire State Books.

Associated Sites

Land Loss

1859 – 1880slost-indian-land-map-newsday-607x1024 Shinnecock Indian Reservation Jeremy Dennis On This Site

Real Estate Promoters and local officials eager to bring the Long Island Railroad to the East End of Long Island used questionable and possibly illegal means to break leases with Indians in Southampton and East Hampton towns a century ago and strip away their rights to 14,500 acres of prime real estate.

The most breaking of leases with the Shinnecock and Montaukett Indians, in 1859 and the early 1880s, appears today to have been accomplished by deceit, lies and possibly forgery, a Newsday examination of historical and legal records shows. While the Indians themselves raised these issues at the time, their protests were dismissed in the courts. 1

  1. Steve Wick and Thomas Maier, Lost Indian Land, Newsday March 22, 1998

New England

Shinnecock, as well as their neighbors: the Montauks, Corchaugs, and Manhasset, were under tribute to the Pequots and Narragansetts who sometimes raided the eastern part of Long Island.

The language of the eastern clans was similar to that of the Pequots, Mohegans, Quiripis and Narragansetts of New England and traces of it have survived until the middle of the nineteenth century. 1

  1.  Bailey, P. (1949). Long Island; a history of two great counties, Nassau and Suffolk. New York: Lewis Historical Pub. pp 119

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