East Coast Freedom Council
While the United States shudders in the shambles of another election year, whether from a collective sigh of relief or fear of what’s to come, a different system of governance blooms in a swath of woodlands jutting into the Atlantic Ocean. This shandy shoreline now part of what is called Long Island has always been home to the Shinnecock people. A group of Shinnecock women, organized as the Warriors of the Sunrise, are called to rise up in the face of invasive settlement. This is not their first battle.
Members of the Shinnecock Nation know of a time before there was a Southampton, before there was a State of New York. Since the land emerged after the last Ice Age, able to support human life thousands of years ago, the Shinnecock people have lived on what has only recently been called Long Island. Since European settlers arrived in the region in the early 1600s, the Shinnecocks have been fighting against dispossession and intentional, exploitative underdevelopment.
While the uber wealthy flock to their multi-million homes in the Hamptons and continue their leisure practices on the sacred grounds of Shinnecock Hills, the original peoples of the land struggle to raise themselves out of poverty every year. This is not for lack of effort, knowledge and collective will. The land has always been abundant and Shinnecock people have continued to steward incredible ecosystems despite the environmental destruction which followed residential encroachment by the elite. For decades modern-day settlers and colonists have given no regard to the calls of the Shinnecock people to respect and preserve their ancestral grave sites; they have continued to build their mansions and golf courses as they unearth the remains of Shinnecock tribal members. Forcefully relegating the Shinnecock to small reservations, surrounded by the hollow grandeur of seasonally empty mansions and dried up swimming pools, the town and state would prefer to act as if the Shinnecock simply do not exist.