Chief Robert Pharaoh of the Montauketts has been named grand marshal of East Hampton Town’s 375th anniversary parade, on Sept. 23.
Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc made the announcement on Tuesday morning during the reading of a proclamation honoring Mr. Pharaoh. "The members of the Montauk Indian Nation were the original indigenous inhabitants of the area that in 1648 was incorporated into the Town of East Hampton," he read. While the tribe continues to exist, "even after losing its original homelands, including areas of Montauk such as Indian Field, to the developer Arthur Benson and to others in the late 1800s and the turn of the century," it is "struggling to have New York State reinstate their formal recognition as a tribe after being stripped of that status by a court in 1910."
As the town wishes to acknowledge and recognize the history and present-day status of the Montauketts, according to the proclamation, "the Town of East Hampton does hereby designate Chief Robert Pharaoh of the Montaukett Indian Tribe Nation as grand marshal for the town’s 375th anniversary parade on Sept. 23, 2023."
"I’d like to thank everyone for this honor," Mr. Pharaoh said. "It’s very, very important to us, because we are trying to get our recognition reinstated. This is something that will help us along the way. Every little bit helps."
Mr. Pharaoh’s selection as grand marshal underscores the town’s recognition of and support for the Montauketts, according to a statement issued from Town Hall during the board’s meeting. The 1910 court action, in Pharaoh v. Benson, related to efforts by Benson to acquire Montaukett Indian Nation homelands in Montauk.
Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Anthony Palumbo succeeded in getting a bill for recognition passed in the State Legislature, but it has not yet been signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul. Previous bills passed by the Legislature were vetoed by both Governor Hochul and her predecessor, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The parade will start at 10 a.m. on Main Street in East Hampton Village and travel up Newtown Lane to East Hampton High School’s 11 a.m. homecoming festival and 1 p.m. football game.
Hugh King, the town historian, will serve as announcer, stationed at a reviewing stand at Herrick Park. The Montaukett Women’s Circle Dancers will perform on the East Hampton Middle School grounds across Newtown Lane from the reviewing stand when the parade reaches that point. A range of community groups will also participate in the parade.