This week, Hofstra University held a screening of the documentary film Shinnecock. The films producer Janine Tinsley-Roe and co -producer Thom Hoffman were in attendance. The documentary featured a full history of the Shinnecock people dating back over hundreds of years. From there immigration over the land bridge to their enslavement and exploitation by colonists to where they currently stand today, as the only indigenous people which are no longer entitled to actually live on their own land. Though their are small reserves dispersed throughout long island for these people, the government still have countless land disputes with them today as their land continues to be snatched right before their eyes. As the documentary reminds us, as it stands today America is the only country that has neglected to recognize the indigenous people of our nation for helping to make us the nation we are today.
One of the saddest truth from this movie was discussed at lengths at the movies close by Janine Tinsley-Roe. What had struck Janine Tinsley-Roe as most strange, is a long islanders lack of inquiry about her people, the people of this very land which we live on. Tinsley-Roe explained that America is also one of the few countries where the people teaching in our schools are not the most knowledgeable about our local history yet they are still the ones teaching it rather than her people who have lived through it and passed down history for generations. In my opinion, the most surprising thing she revealed to the audience is that Native American history is mandated as part of New York schools education at the grades of 4, 7 and 11. Though I have no recollection of being taught anything about Native American peoples, culture, or customs at any length during those years. One of the biggest takeaways Tinsley-Roe wanted the viewers of her documentary to have is simply the proper recognition her people deserve. Stating that Hofstra was the only university to invite her movie to be screened this month in the past year. Meanwhile, November is Native American heritage month, again the lack of recognition her people received simply baffled Tinsley-Roe. One of her remarks that struck me the most was the thought that a university ought to add a department for Native American history. Though I can see the argument on both sides Tinsley-Roe is incredibly passionate about keeping her peoples culture and history alive, while many students today don’t share the same enthusiasm for the field to make it a worth while investment for a university. Possibly due to the lack of an education about Native peoples which I know was certainly present in my education.Janine Tinsley-Roe