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Shinnecocks Reaffirm Decision to Remove Leaders [UPDATED]

Shinnecock Indian Nation voted again Tuesday to oust members from leadership positions.

Editor's Note: This article was updated at 5:40 p.m. to reflect a statement from the Shinnecock Nation.

Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation voted Tuesday to reaffirm the tribe's July 31 decision to remove two tribal trustees from office, as well as two gaming authority officials. Additionally, a former tribal council member was barred from acting as a Representative of the tribe.

The day-long vote allowed tribal members to decide on each of the five men individually, rather than as one bloc, according to a statement the tribe issued Wednesday afternoon. Ultimately, the majority of voters decided to uphold the sanctions against all five.

In August, Newsday reported that Gateway Casino Resorts, the Detroit-based developer that has an agreement with the tribe to establish a Shinnecock casino, learned that some tribal officials were violating the contract by working with an outside businessman toward a gaming facility in Manhattan or Nassau County.

An investigation committee, composed of five former tribal trustees, probed the allegations and presented their findings prior to the vote, the tribe states.

The two trustees removed from the three-member board are Lance Gumbs and Gordell Wright. Phillip Brown and Barré Hamp were removed from the Shinnecock Gaming Authority, and Charles Randall, who was not an office holder, was prohibited from representing the nation, according to the tribe.

“This vote brings to an end a difficult process, but one that we handled in a fair and straightforward manner," said the Rev. Michael Smith, who served on the investigation committee. "We presented our findings, gave the accused a chance to present their side of the story to the Nation as a whole and time to talk to individual tribal members as well. The people had all the facts and made their decision without undue pressure from anyone. It’s time to move forward.”

Newsday reports that the former leaders, who refuse to abide by what they call an "illegal" decision, maintain that they acted in the best interest of the tribe, and many supporters of the ousted officials did not vote, in protest of the process.

But Trustee Chairman Randy King said the nation has spoken.

“When the Nation speaks, the Nation speaks,” he is quoted as saying in a tribe statement. “And once again we came together as a people to resolve our internal business, as we have done for generations. This vote demonstrates that the Nation comes first, and always will come first before any individual members. This is who we are, this is who we have always been. We look forward to moving in a progressive manner with our partners in county, state and the federal government to pursue economic opportunities that will benefit the Nation and our neighbors."

highhatsize October 24, 2012 at 08:53 PM
This article is beating the drum about a non-story. Since Gumbs doesn't accept the "illegal" vote, it's just more meaningless fireworks. There are many arrows left in his quiver. The tribe may have counted coup but Gumbs is still alive and kicking. In his absence, though, perhaps the tribe can smoke the peace pipe with the baymen. Until the Shinnecocks stop shooting at their neighbors, Great White Father is ulilkely to sign off on their casino plans.
Jaguar-Guy October 25, 2012 at 10:20 AM
What a bunch of Racist Comments hat. Wow - amazing that you are that ignorant.
Edcil October 25, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Would it be possible for them to also oust the 10 foot wide digital television with the cigarette ads, the neon, the double wides and the generic tobacco ads on old Montauk Hwy? I know they love the land and are the keepers of ancient tribal grounds and all but holy mackeral have they made it look like crap over there.
LIJoe October 26, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The Shinnecocks need to go the Catskills to open up a casino on a grand scale.
Harold Monteau October 28, 2012 at 08:55 PM
The Gateway Contract(s) are not enforceable and "void ab initio" until approved by the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) according to explicit expression in Federal Law, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The vote(s) are not in compliance with either Tribal Law or Federal Law which now applies to the Tribe. Gateway's meddling in tribal affairs will eventually cost them their approval by the NIGC and possibly will have other consequences. 1 Trustee (King) does not a Board of Trustees make. Gateway's "take-over" of an Indian Tribal Government won't go unoticed by the Feds.

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