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DAN'S PAPERS, November 20, 2009 Page 17 www.danshamptons.com

Smoke Signals Unkechaugs Get Good Press about Smoke Shops. But is it Deserved? By Dan Rattiner Newsday blared giant headlines on its front page last Monday for a lead article that read, SAVED BY CIGARETTES—THE TRIBE FEARS REVENUE WILL GO UP IN SMOKE. The essence of the article is that the big bad federal government is attacking this tiny eastern Long Island tribe of 280 Unkechaug Indians, just at the time it is starting to prosper with the revenue from its little smoke shops. At these shops, they sell cartons of cigarettes tax-free to the general public. The tribe lives in near-poverty on a small 55acre lot composed of 35 small houses and 65 trailers in Mastic, Long Island. Tribal members used to range over much of Long Island, but then the white men came. Now they have just this small acreage along Poospatuck Lane

where they make a modest living selling cigarettes. Numerous tribes on Long Island sell cigarettes from stands, but the Feds are focusing on just the Unkechaugs, Newsday says. And it’s true. The Unkechaugs were just about to begin building a community center. Now the Feds want to shut down their only livelihood: their smoke shops. It makes no sense. Or does it? The idea from Newsday’s perspective comes from the theory that more people will snap up the paper with this on the front page. UNKECHAUGS CREDIT CIGARETTE SALES FOR EASING POVERTY, a subhead reads. INDIANS IN MASTIC VOW TO FIGHT EFFORTS TO HALT BUSINESS. The Unkechaugs say the Feds are attacking just

them because they are the weakest link. Soon, they will be after all the tribes. I have often said that you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the newspapers—or see on TV either. With newspapers, read between the lines. Or in this case, all you have to do is read the lines. The Unkechaugs have been selling cigarettes tax-free on their land since 1991, the article says. The first smoke shop was opened by tribal chief Harry Wallace. In recent years other smoke shops have opened on the reservation. (The Shinnecock Reservation in Southampton has had two smoke shops since the 1960s). Now there are more than a dozen smoke shops on the Unkechaug Reservation. One month ago, though, the City of New York (continued on page 28)

CONGRATS TO JODI RELL FOR A JOB WELL DONE By Dan Rattiner I heard on the radio this morning that Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell has decided not to run for re-election. Her popularity after three terms remains high—the polls say that 65% of the voters would vote for her again. But she says she’s been in office long enough, and she wants to retire. It’s time for someone else to take the reins of office. Some of you reading this will say what a fine job Rell has done. She’s a model of how to be a good politician, and who would have thought that this former secretary and clerk could rise to such an office and do such fine work?

Others of you will say, who the hell is Jodi Rell? I would like to speak for the former group. I was born and raised in the suburbs of post-war New York City in the 1950s. The radio stations I listened to (on AM, there was no FM) were WCBS, WOR, WINS and WQXR. We didn’t have much TV back then, but what we did have, in black-and-white and on small screens, were CBS, NBC and four other channels including Channel 13, all based in Manhattan. Our baseball teams were the Yankees and the Dodgers. Everything revolved around New York City.

Then, my dad moved our family out to Montauk. I was 16 and when I turned on the TV, I was astonished to discover that although we were still in the New York metropolitan area, the radio and TV were from Connecticut and Rhode Island. I thought this pretty ridiculous at first. But I soon learned that as the crow flies, we were closer to New England than to New York, and were only within signal range of the former. Later, I learned a further interesting fact. Eastern Long Island was settled by the pilgrims from New England. Indeed, for the first (continued on next page)

Dan's Papers Nov. 20, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers Nov. 20, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

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