Warriors of the Sunrise Distribute 500 Bags of Food; Urge New York State to ‘Drop The Lawsuit’

Sovereignty Camp 2020 was the location of “Food Drop (The Lawsuit),” on Wednesday, November 25. Located on Sunrise Highway’s westbound parking area, just west of Exit 66, signs read “Food Drive Ahead,” “Honk for Indigenous Rights! #Landback,” and “Drop The Lawsuit.”

On the other side of the highway, the standing 61′ tall Shinnecock Billboard Monument read “Free Food” with an arrow pointing to the food drop.

The Warriors of the Sunrise, which consists of Shinnecock Nation members and supporters, have spent the past month encamped on the land on the north side of the highway. They are calling on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James to stop, according to statements, “waging economic warfare against the Shinnecock Nation.”

The group urges those in support to “Tell them to drop the lawsuit against the Shinnecock Nation Monument!” In May of 2019 the first billboard monument on the south side of the highway was built. A lawsuit from the state followed, and a year later New York Supreme Court Judge Sanford Neil Berland denied the state’s request for a preliminary injunction to remove the structure. Today, the Warriors of the Sunrise are protesting the lawsuit brought by the New York Department of Transportation, and asking that it be dropped.

“Judge Berland made it clear to you that this is Shinnecock land and that Shinnecock’s right to pursue economic development in order to put food on the table tips the scales of justice in Shinnecock’s favor. Do the right thing! The world is watching,” read an Instagram statement on the group’s page @warriorsofthesunrise.

The group claims that the state attempts to “strangle the Nation’s attempts to engage in economic development in order to meet the basic housing, education, and food needs of its tribal members.”

Musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd has been a vocal supporter of Warriors of the Sunrise. “They’re doing amazing work down here,” he said in a video posted today on Instagram, introducing Tela Troge, one of the camp’s organizers and the attorney for the Shinnecock Nation.

“We have a lot of food insecure people in the local area,” said Troge on Water’s Instagram. “A lot of the Spanish speaking population is also in desperate need of help at this time.”

“We are ending camp by providing corn, squash, fresh local produce and salmon, turkey or ham dinners for 500 families. Thank you for your continued support of Shinnecock Sovereignty!” read the groups GoFundMe page, which has raised over $33,000. Some of the local produce was donated by The Green Thumb and Sagaponack Potato Farm.

“Where I come from we would call that f***ing amazing,” said Waters, looking at the food donations. “So the local community have all got together behind the Shinnecock Nation to do this amazing thing on National Mourning Day.”

The camp was set up on November 1 and will end tomorrow, November 26, which is considered by the Warriors to be the National Day of Mourning.

Cuomo’s office has reportedly said they will work with the Shinnecock Nation on a number of issues they have raised.

“We have the right to conduct economic development in order to feed our people,” Troge said, explaining the need for the monument’s advertising dollars. “New York State unfortunately continues to try to get that decision overturned. Even though it’s quite clear, legally, they have no chance in succeeding in that.”


Jessica Mackin-Cipro


Jessica Mackin-Cipro is an editor and writer from the East End of Long Island. She has won numerous NYPA and PCLI awards for journalism and social media. She was previously the Executive Editor of The Independent Newspaper.

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