The Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock is located in Shelter Rock, New York, the ancestral home of the Matinecock tribe. 

The Matinecocks were just one of 13 native tribes who made their home on Long Island. The name Matinecock means “Hilly country.” The Matinecocks lived on the north shore of Long Island, from what was then called “Newtown East” (Maspeth, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Woodside, Jackson Heights and Corona) to what is now Smithtown. They had Settlements in Flushing, Glen Cove, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, and Northport. 

The Matinecock people hunted and fished. The numerous creeks, inlets and bays of the north shore gave them an abundance of fish and shellfish. Wild game, a variety of fowl, and fruits and nuts were natural sources of food. Timber for shelter and canoe building was plentiful. The Matinecocks were peaceful stewards of this land for thousands of years.

In the 1600s, European settlers began arriving. They were drawn to the ecological bounty this area provided. The Matinecock, with their tradition of hospitality, welcomed the Europeans as guests. However, the settlers brought with them diseases, and the members of the tribe began dying from these foreign illnesses. Land “ownership” was not a concept the Matinecocks understood. Rather, the earth was understood as a living, sentient being, and, therefore, no one can claim ownership.  The European settlers, however, wanted the land for themselves, and they forced the surviving members of the tribe into signing over their land in the form of treaties that would later not be honored. Those who refused to give up their land were massacred.

As part of our values and Principles, Unitarian Universalists (UUs) affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, equity and compassion in human relations. 

Land acknowledgment is only one small part of supporting Indigenous communities. We hope our land acknowledgment statement will inspire others to stand with us in solidarity with Native nations. 
The Socially Responsible Investment Committee (SRI) at Shelter Rock currently invests in the Native American Bank in Denver, CO.  “Chartered as a national community development focused bank, Native American Bank is also a certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). We are committed to being a self-sustaining CDFI and are the only national American Indian owned community development bank in the country.”


Image credit: (2015 Matinecock Street Naming Ceremony)

Submitted by Kelly Lennon, Chair, Social Justice Committee