Every weekday, Newsday presents another
IT HAPPENED ON LONG ISLAND!


Photo: Newsday

1700: William "Tangier" Smith
Creates Poospatuck Reservation

When Dutch and English settlers arrived on Long Island in the 1600s, the Poospatucks ("where the waters meet"), members of the Unkechaug tribe ("people from beyond the hill"), inhabited the area between present-day Patchogue and Westhampton. The tribe was noted for its production of top-grade wampum, made from shells. In 1700, William "Tangier" Smith, lord of the Manor of St. George in Mastic, designated a riverfront tract of land in present-day Mastic as Poospatuck land. But in 1730, the Smiths reclaimed 100 acres. Other questionable land deals followed, and the area decreased to about 55 acres. Today, the Poospatuck Reservation is the smallest in New York State. Approximately 270 of the remaining 450 Poospatucks live on the reservation. It maintains sovereign status with its own constitutional government led by tribal chief Harry B. Wallace, elected in 1994, and a six-member council. Unkechaug tribe member Abby Langhorne is shown here in a 2002 photo.

–Cynthia Blair

 

 


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