Cove Realty Site

Table of Contents


In 1952, The Great Cove Real Estate Company attempted to build houses on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation just south of Montauk Highway in an attempt to steal Shinnecock Land.

The final court decision in 1961 resulted in success for the Shinnecock Tribe, preserving the land as part of the reservation. The foundations for the houses can still be seen today.


Cove-Realty-Site-Court-Image Cove Realty Site Jeremy Dennis On This Site
Members of the Shinnecock Tribe show their approval of Judge Edgar Hazleton’s decision favoring the tribe in its legal battle against the Great Cove Realty Company which started a subdivision of small homes on land claimed by the Indians. Front row, left to right: Mrs. Edna Eleazer, oldest blood member of the tribe at the time; Miss Lois Hunter, tribal historian; Harry K. Williams, chairman of the board of trustees of the Shinnecock; Mrs. David Kellis and Mrs. Isadore Smith, well-known residents of the Reservation. Back row, left to right: The Rev. Herbert Moyer, honorary member of the tribe; Elmer Smith, trustee of the Shinnecock Indian Reservation Presbyterian Church, David DuVivier, attorney and summer resident of the Art Village who is an honorary member of the tribe; Charles Smith and Avery Dennis, trustees of the tribe. From Gaynell Stone’s The Shinnecock Indians – A Culture History 1983 pp 119


The New York City-based Great Cove Real Estate Company attempted to build houses on the Reservation land just south of Montauk Hwy to steal Shinnecock Land.

The company began construction of several small houses on the land before the Shinnecock were able to mount an opposition. The tribe formed a committee, the Shinnecock Indian Community Group, secured a lawyer, and appealed to the Suffolk County District Attorney to evict the developers from tribal land. 1

Families whose homes bordered on the Montauk Highway had their driveways and front lawns cut off from the highway by a bulldozer on a Sunday afternoon.  This cutting was done from West Gate Road along the Shinnecock Reservation land to the property of Mrs. Helen Bunn Hendricks, who had a vegetable stand on her front lawn.

When she was threatened, two Tribal members went to the home of Judge Hazelton in Southampton Village and got a restraining order to stop the bulldozer.  That was the end of the bulldozing action, but the lawsuit began.

Sometime during this process, foundations were actually built. 2


Final court decision successful for Shinnecock Tribe relating to the Cove Realty Case. The judge ordered the County Sheriff to remove the defendant from the lands. He found that the land had been part of “a trade” in 1859, memorialized in state law. 3 He provided;

a rule which would authorize individual citizens to obtain possession of Indian lands under any claim or pretense whatever, without sanction of government, and put them to slow and tedious process of action at law to recover such land, would be destructive of their rights and subversive of duties and obligations which government owes them. 4

Land was returned to the Tribe and one of the buildings which had been built as a “model home” was moved to the Powwow grounds, where it serves as the Food House to the present day. 2

  1. John Strong, We Are Still Here – The Algonquian Peoples of Long Island Today, 1998, pp. 19[]
  2. David Bunn Martine, Shinnecock History Timeline, pp. 12[][]
  3. Proposed Finding for Acknowledgment of the Shinnecock Indian Nation (Petitioner #4), 2009, pp.67[]
  4. Suffolk County Court 1/17/1955[]