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$5.3 million deal proposed for Indian burial ground in NY

May 30, 2021 GMT

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — Members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation and their supporters including Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters urged local officials to spend $5.3 million and preserve a property in the tribe’s ancient burial area on Long Island.

Newsday reports that the 4.5-acre property on Montauk Highway that is now on the market is sacred to the Shinnecocks but is regarded as prime Hamptons real estate.

“It really is and has been documented as the most significant Indian burial site in the state of New York,” Kelly Dennis, a member of the Shinnecock Nation Tribal Council of Trustees, told the Southampton Town Board at a meeting Tuesday.

Under a deal proposed by tribal leaders, the nonprofit Peconic Land Trust would purchase the title and demolish a six-bedroom house on the property. The town would then buy the development rights from the land trust using $5.3 million from the Community Preservation Fund, which is funded through a 2% tax on real estate transfers.

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Peconic Land Trust President John Halsey said there is a possibility of reinterring remains of Shinnecock ancestors that have been returned to the tribe by cultural institutions.

Waters, an area resident and supporter of the tribe, attended the town board meeting and called the proposed land deal a “potential for joy.”

“I will remember this day for the rest of my life because I think it’s incredibly important to this community and to all of us who are here and who are lucky enough to be part of this,” Waters said.

Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the board would make a decision during its June 8 meeting, but he expressed support for the proposal.

“It is an extraordinary place,” Schneiderman said. “It’s hard not to be moved when you’re there. To not feel a sense of something very spiritual, mystical.”