News that the Shinnecock Indian Nation had renewed plans for a casino development on its land may have come as a bit of a shock to some this week, but it was a long time in coming. The small community has a minimal tax base, which leaves it chronically lacking the kind of amenities enjoyed by residents of the nearby towns and villages. These include some basics, like roads and other infrastructure and social services. Income from a casino — and the tribe’s two giant illuminated billboards alongside Sunrise Highway — could fill that gap.
As a sovereign tribe, the Shinnecocks have the right to live and govern their own affairs unmolested by town or state officials. And, given the deliberate exclusion that began in the 17th century, as soon as white colonists arrived, it is only justice that their economic development wishes be respected.