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."