In 1897, Montaukett Sachem Wyandank Pharaoh applied for permission to sue the Long Island Rail Road and the Benson estate to reclaim lands he said had been stolen from the Montauketts by Arthur Benson in 1879. The court ruled that Wyandank Pharaoh had no right to sue and neither did the tribe. Legal wrangling continued for some years. In 1910, Pharaoh, et. al. v. Benson, et al was ruled on by the Suffolk County Supreme Court. First, the sale of Montauk to Benson in 1879 was ruled legal and valid. Judge Abel Blackmar also ruled, "?There is now no tribe of Montauk Indians. It has disintegrated and been absorbed into the mass of citizens. If I may use the expression, the tribe has been dying for many years?" This is a ruling they have been fighting ever since.
Now the Montauketts are getting closer to state recognition. A bill in the New York State Assembly setting a procedure for recognition of the Indian Nation has cleared; a similar bill in the State Senate can be voted on as early as this week. If it clears the Senate, it will be moved to the governor for signature.
· State Assembly Clears a Path for Montaukett Recognition [27 East]