On Monday July 11, the Shinnecock Indian Nation and TILT Holdings, a global provider of cannabis business solutions, began construction on Little Beach Harvest, a cannabis wellness center and dispensary located on tribal territory in Southampton, Long Island. The official groundbreaking ceremony made history as Little Beach Harvest is considered a first-of-its-kind Indigenous-owned operation, the inaugural such business for the Shinnecock.
Who Attended The Shinnecock Nation's Groundbreaking For Little Beach Harvest?
Taking place at the future dispensary’s site, 56 Montauk Highway, the groundbreaking joined together tribal members and leaders, including the Shinnecock Nation’s Council of Trustees and Chairman Bryan Polite, the Shinnecock Cannabis Regulatory Division, and Chenae Bullock, Managing Director of Little Beach Harvest. TILT’s Chief Operating Officer Dana Arvidson and Chief Financial Officer Brad Hoch were also in attendance, along with several state and local officials.
How Did The Shinnecock Nation And TILT Holdings Develop Little Beach Harvest?
Little Beach Harvest is poised to create a distinctive engagement point for First Nations and the Hamptons community. The business is the result of a unique partnership between TILT and the Shinnecock Nation, the culmination of six years of lobbying, outreach, development, and planning. Through a joint venture with the Shinnecock Nation’s cannabis economic development firm Conor Green, TILT is financing, building, and providing management services to support Little Beach Harvest across all levels. By kicking off the construction of the dispensary this year, the partners have jumpstarted the first major component of the vertical operation. It’s expected that the dispensary will see completion during the first quarter of 2023.
Construction on Little Beach Harvest’s second major component, the cannabis cultivation facility, will begin by the end of 2022. There are also plans for a future wellness and consumption lounge. The Shinnecock Cannabis Regulatory Division will regulate all operations for each component according to the Shinnecock Nation’s tribal cannabis laws.
What Are Shinnecock And TILT Leaders Saying About Little Beach Harvest?
“I am thrilled to start construction on such an important project for the Shinnecock Nation,” said Shinnecock Nation Chairman Bryan Polite. “Little Beach Harvest has been working hard with our partner, TILT Holdings, to ensure a first-class dispensary for the New York market. This construction kick-off is a step forward for the Shinnecock Nation and I am excited to be a part of such an amazing journey.”
“It’s incredible to think that we gathered here almost a year ago to announce our partnership," stated Dana Arvidson, TILT's COO. "Now, we return to the Shinnecock Nation’s sovereign land to kick off construction, which is truly a substantial milestone in our journey to create social equity for the Shinnecock Nation. Now, we move forward together in building out not only the physical structure of Little Beach Harvest, but our plan in bringing forward plant medicine as an economic engine for the Shinnecock.”
Shinnecock Traditions At Little Beach Harvest's Groundbreaking Ceremony
Indigenous traditions were an integral part of Monday’s groundbreaking, which featured a Shinnecock smudging ceremony and participation by tribal singers and dancers. A presentation of renderings of Little Beach Harvest, as designed by T-Arch Studio, also took place. It all served to remind those in attendance that the people of the Shinnecock Nation have been leaders in environmental stewardship for thousands of years.
Chenae Bullock addressed the crowd with thanks to the Creator. "This is a big deal for our tribe," she said in her speech. "What we're doing with this sacred plant is going to heal not only the Shinnecock community but so many in the world. And that's not just through commerce, but through education and the energy put into giving this plant a voice again… There's so much rich history on the things we have done that have changed so many things in the world, from whaling, industry to how to plant. What we're getting ready to break ground on is something new to do for not only our community but the entire East End and the entire world."
Bryan Polite, speaking next, echoed Bullock’s thanks to the Creator and noted that the groundbreaking should be considered “a momentous occasion” and “a blessing,” a triumph for the Nation after several years of loss. He recalled how the Shinnecock had wanted to move forward on such a project for a long time, but the pandemic caused the Nation enormous challenges. Although difficult, Polite admitted that these setbacks ultimately brought the Shinnecock people closer together than ever.
“Throughout our history, we've shown resiliency, and that's what this marks today — the resiliency of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in the face of adversity,” he stated.
Polite went on to thank all members of the Shinnecock Council of Trustees and former tribal leaders, asserting that Little Beach Harvest will be seen as an economic generator and a community builder for the Nation. According to Polite, proceeds and revenue from the operation will greatly expand the Shinnecock’s social safety net and the Nation’s ability to provide programs, direct financial support, and return to its traditional agricultural roots.
What Will Little Beach Harvest's Cannabis Operations Look Like?
In connection with the Shinnecock Nation’s longstanding relationship and respect for plant medicine, Little Beach Harvest's mission is to provide access to an alternative, natural way of healing in a way that suits the needs of its customers. Drawing on the Shinnecock Nation’s vast knowledge of plant medicines and natural healing modalities, the dispensary is expected to offer a broad array of cannabis products.
Little Beach Harvest will feature 5,000 square feet of dispensary space and also offer drive-through service along the main Southampton roadway. The dispensary and future wellness lounge will become a destination in itself, as they are just minutes from Southampton’s business district. Current design plans for Little Beach Harvest showcase an organic aesthetic reflective of the Shinnecock Nation’s connection to the area with natural stone and light wood elements for both the interior and exterior of the dispensary.
The Shinnecock Nation Environmental Department, Natural Resources Department and Cultural Enrichment Department worked closely with Little Beach Harvest to ensure that proper tribal protocols were followed before clearing the lands. Real estate advisory company J2H Partners, which has amassed decades of experience in all facets of commercial project consulting, will manage the build by award-winning Rycon Construction, Inc.
Chenae Bullock On Shinnecock Nation Sovereignty And The Future Of Little Beach Harvest
As the event continued, Bullock also reminded those gathered what a significant milestone Little Beach Harvest’s groundbreaking really is for the entirety of the Shinnecock Nation. The project will provide long-term career opportunities, with a business-to-business approach focusing on collaboration with tribal members. "The wealth gap that we have in this particular area is so drastic, that it's important to not forget that there are community members we can help — to bring it all together."
It’s not just the money coming in from the operation, Bullock said, but the effort to preserve Shinnecock sovereignty - “that we’ve been able to preserve and protect for hundreds of years - because Shinnecock is still here. You are on Shinnecock land.” Remembering her first meeting with the TILT leadership, Bullock had asked them outright: “How far are you willing to to fight for our sovereignty?”
She continued, "It has been a long time coming for our Nation to officially break ground for the Dispensary for Little Beach Harvest, and that is because we wanted to make sure we took all of the proper steps to make sure it was done right... Anything we envision as a Shinnecock People has to always be for the next seven generations and beyond... Over these last several years NYS and many other states are still trying to wrap their heads around the process tribes are taking to enter in the industry, and the truth is we enter with our cultural protocols. This isn't something that will always be respected and understood; however, for the betterment of the future of our Nation we must enter in any industry with the next seven generations in mind at all times. From the process of our tribal citizens voting on regulations, the location of where we will build, who we partner with, and the resources we work hard to provide for our Nation; we do not ask for permission to protect and preserve the sovereignty we have held for thousands of years. This project is going to be an anchor for not only the surrounding townships, but statewide on how to properly partner with tribes and build a business that will positively impact all communities equally. We're honored to work with our partners Conor Green and TILT Holdings, who have rolled up their sleeves to stand with us on this journey of creating economic sustainability."
Bullock concluded that “The Little Beach Harvest dispensary will be a place where we can share with the world our culture, honor this sacred plant, increase awareness and provide resources for the Shinnecock Nation. People who come to our traditional lands to shop in our dispensary will contribute to our economic sustainability. For thousands of years, the people of the Shinnecock Nation have contributed to environmental sustainability, and we are now in times that we can develop economic sustainability through the cannabis industry to continue our stewardship to the earth.”
For more information, visit littlebeachharvest.com.
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Chenae Bullock, Managing Director of Little Beach Harvest and Shinnecock Indian Nation member, presents floorplans of the dispensary at the groundbreaking ceremony in Southampton, Long Island (C) Little Beach Harvest