Indigenous People’s Day: A Tribute to the Shinnecock Nation
Viana Muller, Ph.D.
At Whole World Botanicals, we frequently share information about the Indigenous people of Peru, who grow, collect, and harvest our botanicals. To commemorate Indigenous People’s Day this year, we wanted to pay tribute to an Indigenous community close to home: the Shinnecock people, one of our Native American neighbors here in New York. The Shinnecock Nation is a federally recognized tribe of Native Americans based at the eastern end of Long Island, where they have resided for approximately 13,000 years.
The word “Shinnecock” roughly translates into English as “People of the Stony Coast.” Throughout the 19th century, Shinnecock men were well known for their seafaring and navigational abilities and worked as fishermen and sailors on whaling ships that left from Long Island’s ports.
Since the arrival of the earliest settlers, the Shinnecock people have struggled against various forms of cruelty and tyranny, including stolen land, cultural oppression, slavery, indentured servitude, and forced exile of their children to government boarding schools.
Still, the Shinnecock Nation survives and is one of the oldest self-governing tribes in the State of New York, formally recognized by the United States government in 2010. The Shinnecock Nation continues to have a rich culture, including a unique language – a dialect of Algonquin – one of only 175 indigenous languages remaining in the U.S.
Since the mid-19th century, the tribe’s base has been the Shinnecock Reservation, located within the geographic boundaries of the seaside town of Southampton in Suffolk County, NY. The Shinnecock community has a cultural center and museum located on the Reservation.
Despite all the hardships faced by the Shinnecock people and millions of other Indigenous people across North America, the people and their culture continue to be a vibrant part of the Long Island community, explored through events and exhibits. Every Labor Day Weekend since 1946, the Reservation has also hosted a powwow based on ceremonies beginning in 1912. Their 2023 Powwow was held this past September 1st through 4th.
Among the Shinnecock people’s community of multi-generational families living on the 800-acre Reservation is Rebecca Genia. Becky is a co-founder of Shinnecock Hemp Growers, which focuses on hemp-based natural products with health and relaxation benefits.
Whole World Botanicals is honored to count Becky as one of our affiliates. We are grateful for this opportunity to partner with a Shinnecock woman-owned business to support health and wellness on the Shinnecock Reservation, which faces some health challenges due to its location in swamplands. Together, we can help make healing botanicals from the Peruvian indigenous tradition more available to the Shinnecock community, and others who want to be allies of Indigenous peoples by supporting their businesses.