Bloomberg vs. Shinnecock
On the campaign trail on March 2, Bloomberg was in Arizona talking about how not enough is being done to help the Indian tribes in America. He meant well. But then he had this to say about the Shinnecock Tribe here in Southampton and what he said was awful.
“There’s a Native American tribe right near where I live, the Shinnecock Nation. (ed note: Bloomberg lives on a 35 acre estate in Tuckahoe.) It is just a disaster. There’s all sorts of problems. I will help them as well because we just can’t have a group where there’s all the domestic violence and drugs and alcoholism. We’ve just got to do something.”
Shortly after Bloomberg said this, I was on the phone from Dan’s Papers to Lance Gumbs, a Shinnecock indian who’s been my friend since he was 17 years old and had his first job in high school working for me as a Dan’s Papers delivery boy. Since that time he has studied accounting at college, gone into business, become a member of the Tribal Council and been instrumental in bringing the Nation out of the darkness of those early days into a time where the Nation has been able to dramatically alter its status in the Hamptons community.
When I spoke to him, he was at a tribal convention in Nevada where he is the Vice President of the National Congress of American Indians.
We had been talking about the the tribal flag and seal which unveiled some years ago, just before the Shinnecocks gained their Federal recognition.
“Did you hear what Bloomberg said today?” he asked. I said I had not. “Its all over the internet. I’ve been getting all sorts of emails this morning. We’ve got to reply.”
“What did he say?”
“He essentially made racist remarks about us.”
“When we Jews hear bigotry, we shine a light on it so everybody sees it,” I told him. “I don’t know if I agree with it, but that’s what we do.”
“I’ll go on Messenger and send you what he said and our reply,” he said.
In these thirty years, the 1,200 Shinnecocks have gotten National Recognition, opened a health clinic, day care and education offices, a museum, numerous businesses and even a Lobster farm. They also have a tribal office and a vigorous legal effort to fight for equal rights under the law. The Shinnecocks are claiming their space in our community.
Here is the Shinnecock’s response to Mr. Bloomberg. It has gone viral.
“(Mr. Bloomberg) made an outrageous statement regarding the Shinnecock Nation. (The former Mayor) has resided in the Hamptons for decades and not once has he set foot on our territory. The Shinnecock Nation Community suffers from some of the same problems that plague communities all throughout America. The pain and suffering of a community should not be summed up by generalizing about the land that the Shinnecock people have occupied, honored and protected for 10,000 years as a ‘Disaster.’
“We have made great strides to improve our way of life. Mr. Bloomberg who lives close to our ancestral burial grounds has never offered any support or inquired about our issues until this election cycle.
“Mr. Bloomberg should visit the territory and see its vibrant community and instead of passing us on his way to his Hamptons Estate, he can walk the walk and really put his resources and influence to a worthy cause.”
Kelly Dennis, a tribal member who is now an attorney responded to a twitter post with this.
“I am appalled by Bloomberg’s disparaging remarks. His $20 million home is in the stolen Shinnecock Hills where our ancestors are buried.”