State Recognition of Montauketts Clears Assembly


On Tuesday, Senator Kenneth P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. announced legislation to provide Montaukett Indians with state recognition has been approved by both houses of the state legislature. The tribe has been seeking to restore its recognition by the state since it was removed by a 1910 state court decision. The measure passed the Assembly, 137-1, and the Senate, 61-0.

The Montaukett Indians lost their acknowledgement and recognition by the State of New York in 1910 in the case of Pharaoh v. Bensen when the tribe was declared to be extinct. In 1994, the State Supreme Court, in the case of Breakers motel, Inc. v. Sunbeach Montauk Two, Inc., subsequently described the Pharaoh case as being of “questionable propriety.” The act, passed two weeks ago, will restore the Nation’s long sought-after state recognition and acknowledgement.

“Prior to 1910, the Montaukett Indians were recognized by New York State as a tribe. The designation was improperly removed from them in 1910, and it’s  time the Montaukett Tribe receives the appropriate recognition. I am pleased that we were able to obtain the approval of the measure from both the Senate and the Assembly,” said Mr. LaValle.

“I’m delighted that the Senate came through in the eleventh hour to vote in favor of this important measure, following the Assembly’s approval,” said Mr. Thiele. “I thank Senator LaValle for his significant efforts to move this legislation forward. The Montaukett Indian Nation is alive and thriving, and I’m proud the state is finally correcting a grave injustice.”

The legislation will be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo for consideration. If signed into law, it would take effect immediately. Similar legislation was vetoed by Governor Cuomo in 2017. According to a press release issued by Mr. LaValle and Mr. Thiele, members of the Montauketts have met with Governor Cuomo to provide additional information relating to the tribe’s recognition.