About Us

Welcome to our website. The Matouwac Research Center (UN-registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), 501(c)3 not-for-Profit organization) is a historical research and native advocacy center sponsored by the Montaukett Indian Nation and chaired by Robert Wyandance Pharaoh, Sachem of the Montaukett. The Matouwac Research Center is formed to gather information, exchange ideas and gain new perspectives pertaining to the Indigenous history of Long Island. It is our belief that native history cannot be examined solely through a colonist’s lens. Therefore, we will strive to incorporate Indigenous practices and methods as we conduct our historical and archaeological research.

The Matouwac Research Mission

The Matouwac Research Center’s mission is to research Long Island Indigenous history from an alternate perspective, paying particular attention to its influence on the lives of current indigenous residents. The Matouwac Research Center will explore areas such as indigenous rights, sovereignty, territory and self-determination through a concentrated effort to investigate, document, collaborate and disseminate information with a focus on Long Island indigenous interests. We will implement an Indigenous Empowerment program (IEP) that presents to Long Island Native Americans new perspectives on Long Island Indigenous history, discusses the current status and the personal lifestyles of the region’s indigenous population – paying particular attention to how these factors influence the behavior and aspirations of local indigenous residents. As a primarily on-line interactive resource, the IEP will benefit LI indigenous participants by recommending specific actions, identifying available resources and offering feedback that is timely, thoughtful, and appropriate to their specific needs.

What is Matouwac?

early dutch map
Early Dutch Map showing Matouwac Territory

We decided to use the name Matouwac Research Center because Johannes De Laet, one of the founders of the Dutch West Indies Company, published De Novis Orbis (see attached image) in 1624, which refers to the aboriginals inhabiting the eastern end of Long island. His book was published only four years after the establishment of the Plymouth colony in Massachusetts and fifteen tears before Lion Gardiner set foot on Long Island. De Laet refers to the “savages” who inhabited a great cape 12 miles west of Block Island as the Matouwacks. He identifies their land as Fishers Hook or Cape de Baye, whose modern name is Montauk Point.

matouwacks

Some historians refer to a Matouwac or Metoac Confederacy (changed in later books to Montauk Confederacy). In our opinion, the concept of a confederacy of “tribes” on Long Island formed to defend themselves against the “fierce” mainland tribes is of colonial origin. From a native perspective, we believe that a single nation occupied the Long Island territory – and they had nothing to fear from other nations until the European conquerors arrived and destroyed the balance of power that served the Algonquians of the North-east for thousands of years. For research purposes we will call this Long Island native nation, Matouwac

The Montaukett Situation

Warrior observes former Montaukett territory from atop Montauk Lighthouse

Over 130 years ago, through deception and manipulation, The Montauk Tribe of Indians (as they were called at the time) lost their remaining tribal domain on Montauk Point at the tip of Long Island’s south fork. In 1910, after 30 years of legal appeals, Montaukett tribal and legal rights were erased by a blatantly racist and unconstitutional ruling that would clearly not stand under today’s legal standards.

Due to the efforts of the Matouwac Research Center, on June 13 2013, the New York State Assembly passed the 2013 Montaukett Act. Five days later, On June 18 2013, the New York Senate passed their version of the bill. However, Governor Cuomo decided to veto this bill despite the overwhelming support by the NY State legislature. The governor directed the Secretary of State to “evaluate” whether the Montaukett Indian Nation deserved recognition by the state. The Montaukett Indian Nation would prefer that the governor recognizes what the overwhelming majority of NY State legislators already have. The judicial genocide of the Montaukett Indians, a New York State culture that graced Long Island for thousands of years, was unjust and fueled by racial-prejudice and greed. However, in the real world, money and politics are powerful adversaries that have been overwhelming America’s indigenous population for centuries and the Matouwac Research Center can’t be naive about this. Regardless, the Matouwac Research Center vows that Long Island indigenous rights will no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored by the leadership in Albany. We will pursue all the available legal remedies necessary to restore the status and protect the rights of the Montaukett people to honor our ancestors and to instill a sense of pride in our present and future generations.