About the Indian Pow Wow

Since time immemorial Shinnecock has always been host to intertribal gatherings which are called Pow Wow's. The word Pow Wow is derived from the Eastern Algonquin language word Paw-aw-as which has three meanings: the gathering of people, celebration, the shaman or leader of the ceremony. The Pawaw-as called the people together to join in the celebration of which there were four during a year for the Shinnecock. Each one of these gatherings of the clans, tribes and visiting nations was a thanksgiving. The Spring, for the coming through the harsh winter, the Summer, for a new planting time, the Fall, for the bounty of the earth and the Winter, for the safe journey of the dead into the Spirit World. Our ancestors worship through their daily lifestyle, incorporating their thanks to God in spirit and in truth. Our Pow Wow stands for what it always stood for, a religious expression coming from the hearts of the people. These rituals and observances have been handed down through the generations and are the basis of today's modern Pow Wow.

The Shinnecocks were one of the thirteen original tribes of Long Island, which was called by the Indians "Sewanace, Land of Shells." Architectural studies of the Shinnecock Hills show evidence of the presence of the Shinnecock Indian tribe in the same location for over 3,000 years - since about 1043 BC. Recent discoveries have unearthed a stockaded village yet to be studied.

When the founders of Southampton landed at Conscience Point in North Sea Harbor on June of 1640, the eight men, one woman and a child were met by the Shinnecock Indians and their sachem, Nowedonah. Nowedonah was the sachem of Shinnecock and his three brothers were sachems of Montauk, Cutchogue, and Shelter Island.

The English colonists negotiated with the Indians for eight square miles of land, the terms of the bargain reached were for "sixteen coates and sixty bushels of corn," the latter to be paid after the harvest of 1641. The Shinnecocks led the colonists inland to a sheltered area with good farm land, which the settlers called Olde Towne.

Today, the Shinnecock Indian Reservation is a self-governing New York State reservation with a Presbyterian church and a Community Center at the heart of the community. A specie! holiday. "June Meeting," has been honored by the Shinnecocks since ancient times as a day of thanksgiving for safe deliverance through the winter, and prayers for the green corn.

Each year over Labor Day weekend, the Shinnecock Indians hold their Annual Pow Wow, a modern form of Indian celebration. This is the only time that the reservation is open to the public. At the Pow Wow, guest Indians from all over the United States, Canada, and Central America gather on the Shinnecock reservation for the three-day festival, which includes Native American dancing and singing, crafts and foods. In 1937, a Pow Wow was hosted by Harry Thompson held on his property. This Pow Wow was the precursor to our Annual Labor Day Pow Wow.

Although the reservation itself is closed to the public except during its annual Pow Wow, Shinnecock Indian businesses located on Old Montauk Highway are open:

Teepee In The Hills, Native American Arts & Crafts Gallery.
Open 1 - 5 pm daily.

Shinnecock Indian Outpost, silver jewelry, moccasins, blankets, beadwork.
Open 10 am - 6 pm. 631.287.2460