Shinnecock Nation officials took former presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to task this weekend for comments he made at a Native American Sovereignty forum in Oklahoma City on Friday.
“There’s a Native American tribe near where I live — the Shinnecock Nation — and it is just a disaster,” he said at the forum. “It has all sorts of problems. I will help them as well, because we can’t have a group where there is all domestic violence and drugs and alcoholism.”
Mr. Bloomberg owns an estate in Tuckahoe and is a member of the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club.
Shinnecock Nation officials said that despite the fact that he lives nearby, Mr. Bloomberg has never visited the Shinnecock Territory.
Shinnecock Tribal Trustee Chairman Bryan Polite said on Monday he was taken aback by what Mr. Bloomberg said.
“He never, ever reached out to the Nation about our problems, and he’s just a hop, skip and a jump away,” Mr. Polite said. “We would like to invite him to the Nation to dispel the character that he’s trying to display about our community.”
Vice Chairman Lance Gumbs said he was in shock when he heard the presidential candidate’s remarks. Mr. Gumbs, who is active nationally in Native American issues, had received many calls from tribal leaders at the forum in Oklahoma right after Mr. Bloomberg spoke.
“His statements about domestic violence and alcoholism and all these things are just false and misleading and really hurtful to our Shinnecock community,” Mr. Gumbs said. “The actions of a few individuals do not define our entire community.”
Mr. Gumbs said he thinks it was outrageous for Mr. Bloomberg to disparage a tribe in order to talk about what to do for other tribes. Oklahoma has one of the largest Native American populations in the country, and Mr. Gumbs said the comments made at the forum did not sit well with a lot of people in attendance, in addition to the Shinnecock community.
“This man lives on stolen Shinnecock land. He sits here in this community and has done nothing with or for us,” Mr. Gumbs said. “If you have been in our community and saw and witnessed these things firsthand, then you have a right to say it. When you’re reading something in the papers that may not tell the whole story, or may not even involve our people — people who have come in from the outside into our community and created these issues — then you don’t get that right to make those disparaging remarks.”
Both Mr. Polite and Mr. Gumbs have reached out to Mr. Bloomberg’s team, encouraging him to pay a visit to the community he commented on.
“We invited him to Shinnecock to come out here and see exactly how false his words have been. We hope that he will take us up on that offer to come and visit our community and have some discussions with the tribal leadership of the Shinnecock Nation and with our people,” Mr. Gumbs said. “Our community wants an apology.”
Mr. Bloomberg’s campaign team did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.