Jeremy Dennis (’16): Photographing Indigenous History

Photographer Jeremy Dennis is a member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, a tribe from the eastern end of Long Island. His most recent project, “On This Site” is an effort to tell the story of his people through an interactive website. The website features photographs of various archaeological, historical and other culturally significant sites on Long Island, many of which have never been publicly identified.

The Shinnecock Nation is located along the prosperous southeastern shore of Long Island known as the Hamptons, which adds a complicated twist to the project. “Many of the locations that have cultural or historical significance to the Shinnecock have been sold as private property or developed in ways that have no reference to their original cultural meaning,” he says.

For example, the Sebonac Creek site (seen in the photo above) was once an indigenous settlement dating back as early as the Woodland Period but is, today, situated directly between the Shinnecock Golf Course and National Golf Links of America in Southampton.”In my images, I want to document these locations and reinforce the connections that the Shinnecock people have to these places,” says Jeremy.

As he has reached out to community members and property owners, most people have been willing to speak with him. “I think I’m in a good position because I’m open to both sides,” he says. He’s received support and encouragement from his tribe, and he hopes the project will inspire other native communities. “When I tell my tribal members about this (project), they want to get involved,” he says. “I think the project should be done beyond Long Island for the acknowledgement of Indigenous history and presence throughout the country.”

photo by Jeremy Dennis