From a distance the teardrop-shaped peninsula looks just like any other bit of the famed Hamptons shoreline. Thick woods crowd down to the water’s edge and, through the trees, houses and roads can be glimpsed. But this land is not part of the Hamptons, neither is it really part of the United States anymore. This patch – in the middle of the playground of Manhattan’s social elite – is proudly and fiercely Native American country. Almost four centuries since its first contact with the white man and after a 32-year court battle that has just ended in victory, the tiny Shinnecock tribe has now been formally recognized by America’s federal government. The decision means that the Shinnecock, numbering some 1,300 members, many of whom live in deep poverty compared with their wealthy neighbours, can apply for federal funding to build schools, health centres and set up their own police force. It means its tiny 750-acre reservation is now a semi-sovereign nation within the US, just like much bigger and more famous reservations in the west. In order to qualify, the Shinnecock literally had to prove that it existed, submitting thousands of pages of tribal records. “Why do we need federal recognition to show we are who we are?” said Shinnecock leader Lance Gumbs as he sat in his office in the community centre. “It’s a humiliating, degrading and insensitive process. Why do Indian people have to go through that? No other peoples are treated like that.” Many believe that the lengthy and painful process that the Shinnecock has been forced to go through is explained by the tribe’s position bang in the middle of the Hamptons, the string of Long Island towns where rich New Yorkers come to party away the summers. The difference between Shinnecock land and the rest of the Hamptons is jarring. The reservation, signalled by a line of stalls selling cheap cigarettes, sits side by side with the town of Southampton, heart of the Hamptons scene. On the reservation, some roads are dusty and unpaved. The houses are sometimes ramshackle. Unemployment can be a problem for many Shinnecock members. Outside the reservation, on the streets of Southampton, stretch limos and black Lexuses prowl down streets lined with shops selling Ralph Lauren and Diane von Furstenberg. A real estate agent on Southampton’s main street happily advertises a local house going for $12.2 million. Historically – and indeed pretty much since Europeans first arrived in the area in the 1600s – the Shinnecock has been on the retreat. It lost land steadily as more and more Europeans began to farm its traditional territory, eventually leading to an agreement in 1703 that saw it confined to a broad swath of land around Southampton under a 1,000-year lease. However, in 1859 the pressure of development saw that deal scrapped by the settlers and the Shinnecock reduced to its current tiny holding. For years, tribal members then eked out a living working on white farms or helping local fishermen and whalers.
Now that is all set to change as a key part of federal recognition allows the Shinnecock to do the one thing that has changed Native American fortunes more than anything else in the last 100 years: build a casino. Gumbs now sees real power finally in Shinnecock hands. “We are going after everything we are entitled to,” he said. “I am not a big fan of Southampton. They were happy as long as we were the good little Indians in the corner. Well, that’s changed now.” Some of the Shinnecock feel that federal recognition – and the prospect of a casino – might be the beginning of a wider Shinnecock resurgence. In the white land grab of 1859, an area of land called the Shinnecock Hills was taken. Many Shinnecock held it to be sacred ground. It is now full of rich houses and the famous Shinnecock Hills golf club, with total real estate worth more than a billion dollars. The Shinnecock tribe has sued to get it back.
Source: © Guardian News & Media 2010 First published in The Observer, 11/07/10
You are going to read a text about an area of the United States. Choose the best option (A,B,C or D) to respond to the questions. The task begins with an example (0).
0. The Hamptons is …
a. a beach.
b. a forest.
c. a residential area.
d. a golf course.
1. The Shinnecock reservation is ….
a. not part of the Hamptons.
b. separated from the United States by the sea.
c. in one of the wealthiest areas of the east coast of the United States.
d. worthless as real estate.
2. The Shinnecock tribe have been involved in legal proceedings …
a. since they were recognised by the federal government
b. for over three decades.
c. against the inhabitants of the Hamptons.
d. since shortly after their first contact with the white man.
3. The federal government of the US has declared that the Shinnecock tribe is …
a. to enjoy the same rights as other native American settlements in the USA.
b. no longer authorised to open a casino on its lands.
c. to prove its rights to the lands on the Hamptons.
d. to build decent housing.
4. During the whole legal process, the Shinnecock tribe have felt humiliated by …
a. the sublime conditions in which they are forced to live.
b. the insensitive and degrading qualification procedures.
c. the physical abuse they have suffered.
d. their neighbours.
5. Had the Shinnecock tribe not been living in a place that was the playground of the New York elite, …
a. their battle would have been easier to win.
b. their rights would have been impossible to prove.
c. they would not have been able to set up stalls in the streets.
d. their houses wouldn’t have offended anyone.
6. The contrast between the Shinnecock reservation and the rest of the Hamptons is …
7. Over the past few hundred years, the Shinnecock tribe has been …
a. getting smaller.
b. growing and gaining strength.
c. steadily losing its land.
d. fighting to regain its lands.
8. Because of the federal decision, the Shinnecock are now allowed to …
a. make their own laws.
b. play golf with their neighbours.
c. take the necessary steps for their future prosperity.
d. take back all the lands stolen from them.