This story appeared in Newsday on March 22, 1998, as part of the "Long
Island: Our Story'' history series.
Real estate promoters and local officials eager to bring the
railroad to the East End of Long
questionable and possibly illegal means to break leases with Indians
Southampton and East
Hampton towns a
century ago and strip away their rights to 14,500 acres of prime
The breaking of leases with the Shinnecock and Montaukett Indians,
in 1859 and the early 1880s, appears today to have been accomplished
by deceit, lies and possibly forgery, a Newsday examination of
historical and legal records shows. While the Indians themselves
raised these issues at the time, their protests were dismissed in
In the case of the Shinnecocks, an 1859 petition that asked the
state Legislature to pass legislation breaking a lease that covered
Hills may have
contained forged names, names of dead Indians and minors.
"I remember the day when Capt. Louis Scott, Austin Rose and
Capt. Jeter Rose drove
on the reservation," a Shinnecock named David Killes testified under
oath before a U.S.
Senatesubcommittee hearing in 1900. Killes said one of the men
told his father ". . . the petition is going to Albany to-morrow and
he said to my father, Are you going to sign it?' He said, I told you
I would never sign it.' He said, Luther (my uncle), are you going to
sign it?' He said, I will never sign it.' But they forged the names
and put them on."
In the case of the Montauketts, an East
Hampton man later
admitted under oath in court that he had lied when he told the
Indians that if they signed away their rights to land at MontaukPoint,
they still could return during summer months. But according to
testimony before the same subcommittee in 1900, they were barred by
force from returning, and Montauketts alleged that at least one of
their homes was burned to the ground.
The breaking of the leases is not only important to historians but
resonates today. The Montauketts have filed a notice of intent with
the federal Bureau
of Indian Affairs asking
for recognition of their tribal rights. If they win recognition, the
Montauketts say they will file a court case alleging fraud in the
loss of their lands at Montauk Point,
which today are mostly maintained as parkland by Suffolk County
the Shinnecocks say they are assembling historical documentation in
preparation for filing for federal recognition of their tribal
status. Today, nearly all of theShinnecock
incorporated in two world-class golf clubs that sit on land worth
millions of dollars.
Both the Shinnecock and Montaukett land deals were motivated by the
expansion of the Long
Island Rail Road in
the mid-1800s. At that time, the railroad ran through the middle of
Long Island from Queens to Greenport,
but not along the South Shore. Hoping to induce officials to extend
tracks farther east, many towns along the South Shore right of way
floated bonds to help defray costs. Committees of businessmen,
farmers, fishermen, elected officials and real estate promoters were
formed in each town to lobby the Long
Island Rail Road to
extend its tracks fromQueens to Babylon, Islip, Patchogue and
east to Sag
Harbor, then the most populous village in Suffolk County.
"It is certainly of vital interest that this road be constructed,"
editorialized in 1859. The year before, an official Suffolk County
map had shown a proposed rail line leading from Riverhead to
Southampton. "With the inauguration of this road our property will
be doubled in value," the newspaper said.
But to reach the village - or any place on the South Fork, for that
matter - a rail line had to cross the Shinnecock Hills, which was
Indian land locked away for centuries under the terms of a lease
signed in 1703 with the town trustees. The Shinnecocks used the high
and rolling hills - among the most striking parcels of land on the
East End - to hunt, cut wood and graze livestock.
"It was impossible for the railroad to come to the South Fork
without crossing Shinnecock land," said John Strong, a history
professor at the Southampton Campus of Long
Island University. "The Shinnecocks could not legally sell a
right of way because they did not own the land, they leased it. And
the lease was good for 1,000 years. For the railroad to come, it had
to cross Shinnecock land, so some kind of an arrangement had to be
struck with the Shinnecocks or the lease had to be broken."
The Indians lost 3,500 acres of the Hills in the winter of 1859,
when a group of investors that included leading citizens of
Southampton proposed to break the 1,000-year lease in exchange for
giving the Indians title to Shinnecock Neck, a tract of about 750
acres where the Indians today maintain a reservation. Saying they
had a petition signed by 21 Shinnecocks in support of the
proposition, the investors got the state Legislature to pass a bill
authorizing the swap.
Only days after this petition arrived in Albany, records show, a
second petition signed by another group of Shinnecocks reached the
Capitol, alleging that the first petition was a forgery. The
Legislature ignored the second petition. As a tribe, the Shinnecocks
received no money for the exchange, nor did they approve it,
although a federal law passed in 1790 required congressional as well
as tribal approval for Indian land deals.
Records filed in the Suffolk County clerk's office in Riverheadshow
the investors held the land for two years, then sold it to a larger
group that included themselves and others with the same last names.
They then sold a 66-foot-wide right of way to the South Side
Railroad Co., which would later merge with the LIRR.
In 1869, tracks were laid across the Shinnecock Hills, connectingNew
York City to Sag
Harbor. Land values soared.
By the mid-1880s, the Hills were sold to an enterprise called the
Long Island Improvement Co. One of the company's five directors was
Austin Corbin, president of the Long Island Rail Road. Newspaper
accounts say that Corbin and his investors - including the president
of Brooklyn Gas
and Light Co., Arthur Benson -
planned to build a hotel and a large summer colony on the site.
Those plans never materialized, but within a few years, Corbin's
land company started the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on the site.
Today, Shinnecocks work as groundskeepers at the club.
It was a similarly grand dream - involving Corbin and Benson -
that helped push the last group of Montauketts off leased land at
Montauk Point, where the Indians were objects of curiosity for
newspaper writers and tourists traveling to see the lighthouse.
In 1879, Benson bought about 10,000 acres reaching fromNapeague to
the point for $151,000 from a private group of East Hampton
residents. Benson dreamed of an exclusive summer colony along the
ocean, connected by railroad to New York City.
But smack in the middle of the point, on a tract of land called
Indian Fields, the Montauketts were living under the terms of an
East Hampton Town lease that granted to them residency and other
rights "in perpetuity." In order for Benson to have clear title to
the point - and also so that he would not have an impoverished
Indian community inside a ring of expensive homes - he had to
persuade the Montauketts to sign away their rights to the land and
then move away. As was the case at Shinnecock, there appear to be no
records showing that the Montauketts ever were approached as a group
and asked to agree to the sale.
Benson hired the town's assessor, Nathaniel Dominy, to induce the
Montauketts to move to homes he would provide in the Freetown
section of East Hampton. Dominy offered the Montauketts as little as
$10 each for signing individual deeds that gave ownership of Indian
Fields to Benson. According to court testimony, Dominy also told the
Indians they could return to Indian Fields whenever they wanted, a
statement he later admitted was a lie.
The transcript of the U.S.
hearing shows that hardball tactics were used against reluctant
Montauketts. One Montaukett testified at the hearing that the houses
at Freetown that Benson gave the Indians as an inducement to
relocate were no better than pig pens.
After gaining title to the property, Benson recouped part of his
investment by selling a huge tract to the railroad - whose president
was Corbin - for a right of way. He also sold other large pieces to
Corbin individually. By 1890, according to newspaper records, the
land at Montauk Point had soared in value and was worth between $3
million and $4 million. Records and newspaper accounts show that
Corbin and Benson became partners in a grand scheme to turn Fort
Pond Bay into what Corbin called a "nationally significant"
deepwater port where cross-Atlantic steamships could dock. The dock
would be connected toManhattan by
extending Corbin's Long Island Rail Road to Montauk.
If both Indian groups go to court, fraud will not be easy to prove.
Official records of the Shinnecock Tribal Trustees, which have been
kept by the Southampton Town clerk since the town's earliest
history, are missing for the period immediately surrounding the 1859
land swap. Those records could possibly prove what contacts, if any,
the original investors had with the tribe itself; they could also
possibly substantiate the arguments made in the second petition that
the names on the first were forged. There are also questions today
as to how private investors in both towns managed to gain control of
And, of course, witnesses to both events are long dead, their
legacies kept alive in the memories of their descendants.
"We intend to do what we can to answer these questions," said the
Smith, a Shinnecock who is minister of the Presbyterian Church
on the Southampton reservation. "It's important the truth be told."
Soon after their arrival in Southampton in 1640, the English began
making land deals with the Indians. The Shinnecocks' land base
shrank as the English took more and more farmland and woodland.
Soon, the only Indian villages in the town were on both sides of the
narrow strip of land that separated Peconic
Bay, a spot called Canoe Place. Today, the Shinnecock Canal
passes through this narrow waist of land.
In 1703, the town trustees wrote a lease they said would be good for
"one thousand years." It was signed by the trustees, who under the
terms of the Dongan Patent - which governed land matters in New York
- had the authority to negotiate with the Indians. Three Shinnecocks
signed it - Pomguamo, Chice and Mahmanun - but the lease says it was
approved by them "and their people."
The lease allowed the Indians to live, farm and cut wood on all of
the land east of the Canoe Place, bounded by Peconic
Bay on the north and Shinnecock
Bay on the south. The
eastern boundary ran from Shinnecock Creek north to the bay. This
was the entirety of the Hills. In exchange for signing the lease,
the Shinnecocks were paid 20 pounds in English money.
By 1859, the clamor to bring the railroad to the South Fork had
risen to a crescendo. The year before, an official map of Suffolk
County called the Chace map was published. For the first time, a
county map showed a proposed railroad line from Riverhead to
"The railroad was seen by everyone as progress," said Vincent F.
Seyfried, the historian for the LIRR.
"It allowed products to go back and forth and connected the towns to
New York City. It was the future for these towns."
Apparently beginning in the fall of 1858, the Proprietors of the
Trustees of the Common Lands of Southampton - a private group of
investors not affiliated with town government - began approaching
the Shinnecocks with the express purpose of breaking the lease.
According to records, the proprietors were among the town's most
influential families - Edwin Rose, David
Rose, Austin Rose, David Hedges, Jeremiah Hedges, Enoch Halsey,
Isaac Osborn, Erastus Foster, Seldin Foster, Edwin Post, George Post
and Jon Fithian.
According to the testimony taken by the U.S. Senate subcommittee in
1900, individual Shinnecocks were approached by some of these men,
asking them to sign a petition to the state Legislature that would
legalize the breaking of the lease.
One Shinnecock, Eugene Johnson, testified: "In 1859 they circulated
a paper among the Indians to get their signatures, agreeing to
divide the reservation from the hills. Very few of the Indians
signed it. The major part of them refused to sign it." One of the
Shinnecocks who testified, James L. Cuffee - whose name appears on
the petition - said his name was forged.
Under oath, Cuffee testified: "Mr. Rose came out . . . on the Neck
and tried to get all the names signed to it that they could. He came
to me at that time. I was trustee on the Neck and I told him no. I
would not sign anything of the kind, and he went to several others
to my knowledge - I do not know how many - but he could not get the
majority of them. They would not sign it."
But the petition - which was entered into evidence at the Senate
subcommittee hearings - reads as if the Shinnecocks themselves
wanted to give the Hills to the proprietors because of disputes over
livestock grazing. It reads, in part:
"Your petitions further show that of late years various disputes
have arisen between the said Indians and the trustees of the
proprietors of common lands of the town of Southampton in regard to
their respective rights under the several deeds and leases, and that
to put an end to these differences they have consented to an
arrangement with the said trustees by which they are to surrender
their lease to certain portions of these lands, and the trustees are
to reconvey to the said tribe the residue."
It contains 21 Shinnecock signatures, 10 of which are a simple X.
The name James L. Cuffee appears twice. The name Wickham Cuffee
appears also as Wicks Cuffee.
Within days of this petition being sent to Albany, a second petition
was written, this one signed by 12 Shinnecocks, including James L.
Cuffee. It reads, in part: ". . . we depose that said names . . .
were forgeries . . . some of the names purporting to be names of
signers were not signed by the parties bearing the name in the
petition; that others of the signers, or pretended signers, who had
a right to those names signed were dead, and buried for years; that
others were never known to the tribe, nor did they ever belong to
the tribe; that the others . . . were minors . . ."
Today, there are no town or tribal records to show who was alive or
dead as of that date, or even who was a Shinnecock. The records of
the Shinnecock Tribal Trustees are missing for that period. "There
is so much that is lost," said Michael
Smith, adding - as the Shinnecocks in 1900 also testified - that
there are no indications the community itself approved the breaking
of the lease.
"If the breaking of the lease was entirely above board, why didn't
they ask the tribal government to approve it?" he said. "If this is
a good petition, why are names repeated twice?"
Testimony at the Senate hearing showed that, once the lease was
broken and the railroad extended, the value of the Hills soared to
more than $3 million. Testimony also showed that Shinnecocks were
barred, sometimes by force, from returning. One Shinnecock testified
that his elderly Indian aunt "got banged pretty nearly to death for
cutting a stick of basket wood."
Records on file in the Suffolk County clerk's office in Riverhead
show that the proprietors sold the Hills in 1861 for $6,726, or
about $2 an acre - well below the value of surrounding land in the
town - to a group that included themselves and family members. There
are Roses, Fosters and Posts on both lists. Records in Southampton
Town, along with newspaper accounts, said the proprietors retained
the railroad right-of-way, which they sold after the 1861 sale for
$500. In two years, more than $7,000 had changed hands, none of it
ending up with the Shinnecocks. By the spring of 1870, rail service
to Sag Harbor had been inaugurated.
Accounts in a Southampton newspaper called the Sea-Side Times show
that the arrival of the railroad in Southampton Town began a period
of enormous change. In 1881, Corbin - who had developed the summer
resort at Manhattan
Beach in Brooklyn -
became president of the LIRR. During the summer of 1882, he brought
what were described as his real estate partners - a British
investment firm called the American Improvement Co. - to Shinnecock
Describing one excursion of Corbin and the investors, the newspaper
wrote: "They stopped on some of the elevations on Shinnecock Hills
and prospected the sight of a contemplated summer hotel." The same
story said: ". . . at Shinnecock Hills, the company proposes to lay
out a large park of 500 acres, the arms of which should be lined
with cottages - those fronting the sea in villa style, and those
inland surrounded by small farms of from two to five acres in
extent. Those improvements will cost $3.5 million."
A story in the Brooklyn Union-Argus that summer of 1882 said: "Mr.
Corbin's plans for the development of Long Island are so
comprehensive that practical people . . . may be inclined to
consider them as merely imaginative. But Mr. Corbin is backed by
almost limitless foreign capital."
In March, 1884, a company in which Corbin was one of the directors,
the Long Island Improvement Co., bought the Shinnecock Hills for an
undisclosed price - newspaper accounts say the price was hundreds of
thousands of dollars - from a group that included some of the
original proprietors who had broken the lease in 1859, one of whom
was Austin Rose. Newspaper stories and land records show that one of
Corbin's partners on the Hills was Arthur Benson, the Brooklyn Gas
and Light Co. president, who in 1879 had bought Montauk Point from
the Proprietors of East Hampton - also a group of private investors
- and was planning a huge summer resort there.
In 1891, the Long Island Improvement Co. opened the Shinnecock Hills
Golf Club on the site and a grand clubhouse designed by Stanford
White was completed
the next year.
"You come out on the train and you see that Stanford
Whitehouse when you stop at the Shinnecock station," said David
Goddard, a Southampton archivist hired by the golf club to research
its history. "It was done that way by the improvement company to
attract development. Corbin had always had his hand in two places -
the development of huge resorts and the expansion of the railroad."
They were a small group in the 1880s, perhaps no more than 20
people. They lived in small houses on rocky land overlooking salt
water. They fished, hunted, cut wood, tended livestock and chickens,
and worked for white families in East Hampton.
Tourists on their way to the 18th-Century lighthouse at the tip of
Montauk Point passed by their little Indian community. Often the
visitors would stop and look them over as if they were sideshow
attractions. The only thing missing was a billboard telling tourists
to turn left at the dirt road if they wanted to see "The Last
Village of the Montauk Indians."
Corbin and Benson had big dreams for this same land. Their plan,
which would produce millions in new revenue for Corbin's railroad,
was to construct an international seaport at Montauk's Fort Pond
Bay. They envisioned British merchant ships docking to avoid New
York's crowded harbor - reducing their voyage across the Atlantic by
The story begins in 1879, when Benson bought about 10,000 acres of
Montauk Point from the proprietors for $151,000. He surprised
onlookers by plunking down a 10 percent deposit in cash pulled from
But although Benson now owned the land, he did not have unrestricted
rights to it - there was the matter of the lease given to the
Montauketts in 1703. That lease was for about 11,000 acres of
Montauk Point, and covered residency, hunting and fishing rights "in
perpetuity." A year before the auction at which Benson bought the
property, a local judge had ruled that it was legal for the trustees
to sell tracts at Montauk Point, but the tribe's rights to use the
same land had to be protected as spelled out in the old lease.
After buying the land, Benson began building summer resort homes,
including some designed by Stanford White. Soon, his friends were
conducting English-style fox hunting on the high plains. One of his
summer guests was Corbin, who promised to build a giant railroad
terminus at this new port and to ship passengers and freight on his
LIRR trains to New York at 60 mph. He would eventually travel to
England and raise $5 million for a syndicate he controlled with
investors from London andBoston.
Corbin was not one to shrink from a challenge. By 1881, he had
gained control of the money-losing railroad - that year, it lost
$136,000 - and began to pull it out of receivership and toward
profitability. After purchasing other rail systems running through
Brooklyn and Queens, Corbin was dubbed by the press as "the King of
Long Island." He bought a luxurious home in Babylon,
where he entertained President Chester A. Arthur and his son in
But Corbin and Benson acted cautiously in informing both the
Montauketts and the white townspeople of their plans. In September,
1882, some East Hampton residents expressed alarm about his plans
for a railroad through the town. Even as Corbin was suggesting he
would extend the line to Montauk, he was already deep in plans to do
In October, 1882, the Hempstead Inquirer
published an account of a meeting that took place between "Mr.
Benson, the proprietor of Montauk, and the representatives of the
Long Island Railroad and others interested in the establishment of a
fast line of steamers between Europe and
Montauk." But the same account said that Benson had "declined an
offer of $100,000 for the right of way to Fort Pond Bay and land for
Two months later, the newspaper indicated that Benson had a change
of heart. He was now "willing to sell his land" to the railroad, but
with no indication of when such a future deal would take place.
But land records reviewed by Newsday show that Benson had already
signed an agreement, in January, 1882, for a railroad right of way
with a company called the Montauk Association, which was controlled
by Corbin. After an initial payment of $18,235, Benson privately
joined in Corbin's Montauk development efforts. Their agreement
included a promise by Corbin, as court records would later show, to
buy more of Benson's land.
But the Montauketts at Indian Fields were a crucial stumbling block
to these grandiose plans. To help secure the rights to this land,
Benson enlisted the help of Nathaniel Dominy, the East Hampton Town
assessor, whose family had known the Montauketts for a long time.
Dominy agreed to act as Benson's agent in trying to persuade the
Montauketts to sign away their rights and move to small lots in the
Freetown section of East Hampton. Letters written back and forth
between the two men show that Dominy was being paid for his
services, and that Benson pushed him hard when some Montauketts
balked at giving up their rights at Indian Fields and relocating to
First, Dominy and Benson focused on Maria Pharaoh - widow of
deceased chief David Pharaoh - who worked as a midwife in East
Hampton. Together, they tried to persuade her to sign a written
agreement that Benson had prepared. Dominy promised that Benson
would pay her $100 outright and an annual annuity of $240 if she
would sign. Dominy also offered to relocate her home from Indian
Fields to Freetown. As he would later testify in a court proceeding,
Dominy assured Pharaoh that she could return to Indian Fields in the
Maria signed the deed in the spring of 1885. Also signing was her
brother George, and her son Wyandank, who because he was a
youngster, received only $10. In the next few years, other
Montauketts who had rebuffed Dominy's initial offers slowly followed
their example, each for $100 in cash and a small plot in Freetown.
There was no returning after that. Testimony at the U.S. Senate
subcommittee hearings in 1900 indicated that at least one house at
Indian Fields was set ablaze, and newspaper accounts show that
Benson leveled the houses there as soon as deeds were signed.
By 1886, Corbin had lined up much of his investment money for his
international shipping and rail plan, and began lobbying Congress
and Albany for legislation to open the new seaport at Fort Pond Bay.
He also wanted to establish a U.S. Customs office on the site. In
addition, he pushed hard for federal approval to carry the mail on
ships out of Montauk.
In the meantime, Corbin continued to buy up land around Montauk. To
show off the viability of his Montauk rail plans, he made a test run
Island City to the
new train station atAmagansett,
covering the 110 miles in 109 minutes.
In 1895 - by now, Benson had died - Corbin and his partners bought
4,000 acres of the original 10,000 from Benson's widow and his son,
Frank, for $200,000. Just 16 years before, Benson had bought the
entire 10,000 acres for $151,000. A court case brought by the
Montauketts later revealed that Corbin planned to buy more Benson
family land at Montauk. Meanwhile, Corbin's LIRR planned to invest
hundreds of thousands of dollars in the railroad and other
improvements. At Montauk and Shinnecock, Corbin was investing both
as an individual and as the president of the railroad.
At a Montaukett community meeting in that summer of 1895, the
Indians decided to hire a lawyer to contest the Benson purchase of
their ancestral land, which they said had been done without the
In the meantime, Corbin proceeded full speed with his plans for the
Fort Pond Bay development. He arranged for a bill to be introduced
in the U.S. Senate that would establish a duty-free port at Fort
Pond Bay. And, in March, 1896, he began building docks at Fort Pond
Bay, with a new steel pier. But that summer, fate intervened.
While vacationing in New
Hampshire, Corbin went for a ride with his grandson in a
horse-drawn wagon. At one point, the horses bolted when Corbin
raised a sun umbrella into the air and the carriage plummeted down
an embankment. The coachman was killed and Corbin and his grandson
suffered fractures. Corbin died later that day, leaving an estate
estimated at between $25 million and $40 million.
Though some early construction would be finished, Corbin's ambitious
plans for Montauk essentially died with him. But his rapid buildup
of the LIRR across Long Island is still considered the railroad's
For the Montauketts, their lawsuit contesting the sale of their
lands dragged on for years. Gradually, some questionable aspects of
the deal came to light.
At the U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in 1900, several Indians
testified, as did Dominy, and a number of leases and other documents
were entered into evidence. Dominy spoke at length of his efforts to
push the Montauketts off Indian Fields, saying at one point that he
paid one "lame" Indian child named Ephraim Pharaoh just $10. He also
said that, at the time, the boy was a cook in the Dominy household.
The testimony from the Montauketts was bitter and emotional. One
man, Eugene Johnson, said Montauketts who tried to return to Indian
Fields after Benson bought the property were arrested or removed "by
force." Another Montaukett, Nathan Cuffee, said Benson and Dominy
promised, in moving the Indians to Freetown, to either relocate
their homes or build new ones.
"The understanding or the promise by Mr. Benson to those people was
that he was to build them comfortable homes, with so much land to
accompany each house," Nathan Cuffee testified. "And I have been in
the houses, every one of them, without exception, and most of the
houses, except one, are built of plain pine boards, stood on end,
without any chimneys to them, without any plastering; just such a
pen as I would build for a pig."
In 1909, the Montaukett lawsuit finally went to trial. Now in his
80s, Nathaniel Dominy took the stand. Referring to Maria Pharaoh, he
was asked by the tribe's lawyer: "Did you tell her that after she
moved away, and was given this deed, that she could move back?"
"I told her this," Dominy replied. "I venture to say . . . I told
every one of them."
Instead of trying to defend the deal with the Montauketts, the
lawyers for the Benson estate argued that the Montauketts had
intermarried with blacks and thus diluted their "Indian blood."
After a year of deliberation, Judge Abel Blackmar in Riverhead State
Supreme Court threw out the Indians' case, saying that the
Montauketts no longer existed as a tribe. Inside the packed
courtroom, 75 Montauketts sat in stunned silence. Later, the New
York Court of Appeals affirmed Blackmar's ruling.
Robert Cooper - who
recently was elected chief of the tribe in a disputed vote - and his
cousin, Robert Pharaoh, say they are determined to see the
Montauketts' rights as a tribe recognized by the federal government.
If the government grants recognition to the tribe, they say they
will launch a legal effort to have some of their lands returned.
Today, much of the land at Montauk Point comprises county-owned
parkland along with private homes.
"I would call it coercion, a land fraud - leading people with
promises that never happened," says Pharaoh. "These were people with
very little money, who worked as domestics and were victimized from
the time they lost their lands until they passed away."
Scholars and legal experts interviewed by Newsday seem to agree with
this assessment. "The law says that you can't negotiate directly
with individual Indians and that you must deal directly with the
tribe," declares John Strong.
By modern legal standards, experts say, a court could overturn this
land deal because of the evidence of false promises to the tribe.
"You'd have a real shot at overturning on the basis of fraud,
especially when the buyer was promising they could return but was
already interested in the selling the property to the railroad,"
says Anthony P. Gallo, chairman of the Suffolk County Bar
Association Real Property Committee. "I'd say this was a fraudulent
act perpetrated on the Indians."
On a recent afternoon, Robert Pharaoh stood on an overlook of
Montauk Highway and gazed toward the small cemetery where his
ancestors are buried. Beyond the cemetery, the land sweeps
majestically to the sea. The railroad tracks can be seen in the
distance, a reminder of what happened a century ago.
"I come here and draw strength from this place," he said. "My
ancestors know what happened isn't right."