Tag Archive: Lenape

Sand Hill Indians Lawsuit Legal Timeline

cross-posted at Daily Kos

Following is the legal timeline regarding the lawsuit of the oldest indigenous Native American tribe still found in New Jersey – the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians vs. the State of New Jersey.  The Tribe has appealed to the UN to try this case in the World Court.  The territory involved now includes Manhattan, Delaware, and Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

Legal documents discussed in the timeline can be found here.

Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

cross-posted at Daily Kos

On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in NJ filed a lawsuit against the State of NJ, Governor Corzine, and his Administration, as well as the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment and has NOT been dismissed.

In fact, the scope of the case has expanded exponentially.  As of a new filing on June 16, 2010, the territory now includes the Island of Manhattan & Hudson areas, the State of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.

Sand Hill Case May Go to World Court

Chief Ron Yonaguska Holloway met with the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, James Anaya on April 23, after giving a speech at the UN on April 20 regarding his case.

Chairman Yonaguska Holloway at the UN

In that speech, it was revealed that this is the first time that a state (NJ) in the US is being held accountable for the actions of its leadership regarding Native Americans.  That fact drew much attention the week of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.  The Sand Hill Tribe is the last continuously operating Lenape tribe left in the state of New Jersey.  It is one of the last “first contact” tribes left on the Eastern seaboard.  The stakes are enormous.

When Chairman Holloway met with the Special Rapporteur, he was informed that the UN is willing to represent Chairman Holloway and his Tribe – The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, and will reach out to the US Leadership to set up a meeting to negotiate a settlement.  The Rapporteur also promised to represent Chairman Yonaguska Holloway and his tribe, if necessary, at the Hague.  

NJ Lenape Chief Ron Yonaguska Holloway to be on NPR today

I have been blogging about NJ’s Sand Hill tribe for almost two years now and was fortunate to be at the Healing Turtle Island event that will be discussed today on Native America Calling from 1pm to 2 pm today. At that event Ron Holloway accepted the apology in lower Manhattan on behalf of all four Lenape tribes left:

The Delaware (now in OK), the Munsee (now in Canada), the Shinnecock (in NY) and the Sand Hill Band – the only Lenape tribe left in NJ.  The story will also be carried on NPR.  The stream is available here:

http://www.nativeamericacallin…

Acting Principal Chief Ron Yonaguska Holloway will be on the show with Robert Chase of the Collegiate Church as well as Carmen Ketcher of the Delaware tribe who was also present at the Healing Turtle Island Ceremony.  It should be a really enlightening program which discusses the relationship between the Church and the indigenous tribes of NY and NJ over the centuries and where we go from here.  Reverend Chase is actually descended from one of the very first Dutch families in what is now New York City.  

Epic Irony

In lower Manhattan on American Indian Heritage Day, November 27, 2009, in front of the Museum of the American Indian, a historical event centuries in the making occurred as the Dutch Reformed Church apologized to the very last Lenape tribe left in NJ – The Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians.

The irony is that the very same tribe that the Collegiate Church apologized to, and the one recognized by the State Department of the Federal Government and the Obama Administration, is the very same one that the State of NJ and its Commission on Indian Affairs REFUSES to recognize as indigenous and is attempting to write OUT of history.  History 400 years in the making was taking place in lower Manhattan while a few miles west across the Hudson, 12,000 years of history was being systematically, ruthlessly, maliciously erased.

The NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs needs to do some explaining. The Chair of the NJ Commission is a Ramapough, who are Tuscarora in origin, with Cherokee and Lenape having married into the tribe.  Also represented on the NJ Commission are the Nanticoke, who are from what is now the state of Delaware, who arrived here in the 1970’s and the Powhatan, from Virginia, also new (1970s) arrivals.  Conspicuous by their absence from the NJ Commission are the two oldest tribes in NJ, the Lenape – who are revered in song and story from one end of the state to the other because they were the original inhabitants of NJ going back 12,000 years, and the Cherokee tribe here since 1830, whose relatives walked the Trail of Tears.  These two tribes have been ignored and lied to by the very Commission which is supposed to represent them.  The Chiefs of both tribes have been requesting since the Commission was formed a decade ago, to be represented.  Even the Governor has refused their request.  This is what has prompted the Sand Hill Band to file a lawsuit in February which Judge Haden appears to have allegedly stalled in Federal District Court in Newark to this day.

One of the members of the Church happened to be a Ramapough Indian and was a speaker.  However, because the Ramapough had been invited to attend, the last remaining Lenape tribe left on Long Island – the Shinnecock – refused to come to the event.  The reason being was that they did not consider the Ramapough a Lenape Tribe.  To understand how large the rift is now between the last Lenape tribes here and the Ramapough, consider that the Shinnecock did not want to give the current Ramapough even the appearance of legitimacy as a Lenape tribe. The difference between the two is as different as Italy is from Russia. The Lenape are Algonquin while the Tuscarora are Iroquois.  Different customs, different language, different culture.  Over the years Cherokee and Lenape married into the Ramapough tribe as did the Dutch, but the fact that the Ramapough are passing themselves off as a Lenape “nation”, is quite offensive to the last true Lenape tribes left in NY and NJ. The Shinnacock would not bear the insult.

It is ironic that a chosen few of the Ramapough would attempt to prevent any recognition whatsoever of the Lenape grandfather tribe in NJ, while passing themselves off as a Lenape “nation”, and again, quite offensive. The fact that the State of NJ allegedly is going along with the charade is beyond the pale as well as costing the taxpayers over 25 million dollars to date.

And so, while history was being made in NYC, just across the river in NJ, history was being undone, erased, and a revisionist history being jammed into place to benefit a few, unscrupulous folks who appear to be allegedly committing identity theft on a huge scale.  They are even using the internet to wage their misinformation campaign.  Wikipedia has even been changed to leave out the Sand Hill altogether and erroneously states that NJ has three recognized tribes – which, according to Governor Corzine, it doesn’t.

We arrived by ferry and walked to the Bowling Green in front of the old Customs House which now houses the Museum of the American Indian.  The sky was gray and the wind was picking up, but thankfully the rain held off.  The covered stage was set up in the plaza with a huge color backdrop of what Manhattan had looked like before the Dutch came.  It had been a beautiful sea of green forest with a few small smoke plumes from Lenape villages visible.  It was truly beautiful.  The name of the event was “Healing Turtle Island”, which is what the Lenape called the land.  Facing the stage were 200 folding white chairs that would seat the families of the Church members and the Tribal Chiefs and elders.

Despite the absence of the Shinnecock, it was a happy reunion for many of the participants.  Chief Darius J. TwoBears Ross of the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band – a cousin tribe and ally to the Sand Hills, arrived with his tribal members, elders and family. In attendance was ShadowWalker, Red Chief of the Ani~Tsalagi,  tribal elder Ed TwoBears Peart and his family and Tribal Elder Diane BlueSkyLenapeWoman Crawford, who was a Ramapough and who is now a member of the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band.  

Then the Sand Hill members started to arrive. I met Principal Chief MedicineCrow Holloway and his family including his son, Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway, who would give the keynote address.  Arleen Richards, great granddaughter of Chief Crummel of the Sand Hill was also present with her family.  There was also tribal elder Yvonne Dennis, the children’s book author.  Also in attendance were two Delaware tribal representatives who came all the way from Bartesville, Oklahoma, Curtis Zingha, and Carmen McKosato Ketcher, as well as Lenape from Ontario Canada, The Munsee.

It was a virtual who’s who of NJ’s Lenape and Cherokee tribal elders and chiefs.  It was wonderful to see them all in one place.  There were smiles and hugs all around. These were the first contact Lenape Nations (The Sand Hills, The Delaware from OK, The Munsee from Canada) who had suffered the most from the discovery of the New World.  The speeches by the Oklahoma Delaware and the Sand Hill about forgiveness would be the most emotional and touching of all the addresses at the event.

To the curiosity of many, Dwayne Perry, CEO of the Ramapough, was also in attendance.   Recently the Court had ruled that the Ramapough are no longer a tribe but simply a non profit 501.c3. They must have their election this coming June and it will be closely monitored. Allegedly, days before the last election, when Perry was named Chief, nearly 25 families were kicked out of the Ramapough tribe and not allowed to vote until two weeks AFTER the election when they were re-instated.  It reminded me of a BCDO election under Joe Ferriero.  The very sad part of the whole Ramapough story, is that there are Lenape members of this “Tuscarora” tribe and they are related to the Sand Hill.  

At 11 am, the event began. The drum circle included half a dozen tribal members singing in strong, clear voices while striking a single large drum with large sticks, buffered by soft cloth at the ends.  The strength and power of the vocals struck me.  It was mesmerizing and incredibly stirring.

The blessing came first, then a description of what Manahatta was like before Henry Hudson arrived.  The Church members described their role in the settling of New Amsterdam, and why we were here this day. The Church representative publicly apologized for their painful role in the exploitation of the resources of this new world and the resultant displacement and suffering of the Lenape people.

Chairman Ronald Yonaguska Holloway accepted the apology on behalf of the Lenape in an eloquent speech that ended with a promise of hope for the future.  Rev. Chase, a descendent of the very first Dutch child born here in the New World, then embraced Ron Holloway, the son of the current Principal Chief of the Sand Hill, in a symbolic gesture of forgiveness.

The representatives of the Bartesville Oklahoma Delaware followed, explaining that the Lenape thought that no one could own land – it would be like owning the wind – recounted how the misunderstandings began.  The Lenape from Oklahoma then spoke of forgiveness and how it was freeing.  In a symbolic gesture of peace, they brought the Church elders wampum beads that recorded this event. The son of the Oklahoma Delaware representative and the daughter of a Church elder then exchanged necklaces in a show of harmony for the future.

Chief MedicineCrow Holloway of the Sand Hill and his son, Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway played a haunting flute and drum piece written especially for the occasion by Chief Holloway, a gifted, critically acclaimed musician.  The haunting melody evoked the spiritual feeling of the day, sorrowful remembrance, but beauty as well.  The softness and clarity of a message waiting to be heard by those of us willing to finally listen.  Elegant in its simplicity.  

The theme spoken of again and again was the future and where to go from here. We have changed each other forever, but while the Church admitted to regrettably imposing their will on their “brothers and sisters”, they called now for learning FROM the Lenape on how to live sustainably and care for Creation.  Creation was a repeated idea throughout the day. It is the central idea that both the Church and the Lenape have most in common.  The Lenape creation story of the land being created from the back of a turtle was invoked.  Creation should be the common ground going forward.  How we protect and cherish our natural world and each other.  

Outside in the windy day, with the Hudson’s waters lapping against the shoreline nearby, the grey sky showing nature’s power over us, it somehow made sense that this event was not held indoors.  The Lenape have always revered the earth, and perhaps that is what held the rain back that day.  The sun broke through at the end of the event while the public and the elders of the Church and the tribes shared steaming cups of bison chili with cornbread. Yvonne Dennis shared her books with crowd eager to learn more about Native Americans. The drum circle that had begun the day’s events played on as we all shared in the meal together and got to all know each other better.

Somehow I could imagine the Creator up there, smiling.

Nick took lots of video – which should be up shortly…..

400 Years in the Making

It was an epic event.  400 years after the Dutch arrived here, the Lenape finally got, if not justice, at least a formal apology from the decendents of the very first families to settle what had been known as Manahatta and Lenapehoking.  This apology to the very people who graciously welcomed the first immigrants to what is now New York is literally 400 years in the making.

http://www.healingturtleisland…

It is November 27, 2009.  400 years after Henry Hudson first met the Lenape on these shores, the descendants of the very first Dutch families to arrive here, met face to face with one of the last remaining Lenape tribes to inhabit New York and New Jersey – the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians.   In attendance were the Sand Hill tribe’s cousins and allies – the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band, the oldest Cherokee Tribe in NJ, the Delaware tribe of Oklahoma, and the Munsee of Ontario, Canada, who are also descendents of the original Lenape.

In a humbling and eloquent apology, NY’s first Dutch settler families recounted in detail the history that changed all of our lives forever.  It was a tragic history that resulted in riches for the occupiers and heartbreak for the people who were here thousands of years before the Half Moon sailed up the “River that Runs Both Ways”.

The Lenape were a friendly people and welcomed the Dutch.  It wasn’t long before war broke out from disputes over land. What had been a peaceful existence of hunting and fishing in a land of plenty for the Lenape became a struggle to survive.    The subsequent wars decimated the Lenape people, first from violence, then after the British treaties, from isolation and starvation, then from forcible removal by the government.  

The only way to survive to the present day was to literally hide in plain sight.  To melt into the melting pots that became New Jersey and New York.  The Lenape managed to stay here while practicing their arts and religion in secret, and keeping their traditions alive, but to themselves.  In New Jersey, the tribe continued as the Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians and in New York as the Shinnecock.  The third remaining Lenape tribe resides in Oklahoma, and the fourth, the Munsee, now live in Ontario, Canada.

After all the years of persecution and suffering, the Lenape can once again proudly be publicly recognized for contributing quietly for centuries to the building of a nation that wouldn’t even give them the right to vote until years after women had secured it.  A nation based on freedom of religion that would not recognize their religion until the 1970’s.  

That chance meeting in 1609, was the beginning of a long period of suffering for the Lenape and Cherokee.  While the Indians  suffered, the Dutch families of the first settlers and then the British, became rich off of the resources of the land they now occupied.  

The families who profited for centuries from land walked for thousands of years by the Lenape are finally saying something the Lenape have waited hundreds of years to hear.  “We are sorry.”

Chairman Ronald Yonaguska Holloway of the oldest Lenape tribe in New Jersey – the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, was there to accept the apology on behalf of the Lenape.  The Delaware tribe from Oklahoma were also present, as well as the Munsee from Canada, along with the oldest Cherokee tribe in NJ there to witness – the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band.  It was an emotional event.  400 years in the making.  Too late to save the many who have died, but a watershed moment for a still young nation that hasn’t yet lived up to its promise of equality for all.

Here is the AP article of the event:

http://www.google.com/hostedne…

I will soon have video and a more detailed blog of the days events. It was an incredible day….

NJ Historic Genocide Background Docs – Updated

Long before there even was a United States – there was the Brotherton Indian Reservation in what is now Monmouth County.  Just a little history before we get into the backup documents.

Brotherton - the ONLY Indian Reservation in the State of NJ created in 1758 for the Lenape-Cherokee

Fast Forward a few centuries……

October 20, 1989 Proclamation signed by Governor Kean and related documents proving the existence of Cherokee in NJ.

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August 2004 Proclamation honoring the Sand Hill Indians of Monmouth County and related documents.

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December 28, 2006 Letter from Chief Sam Beeler of the Sand Hill Band of Indians (Lenape-Cherokee) one the oldest indigenous tribes still in NJ to the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs requesting representation on the Commission.

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December 10, 2007 Letter from NJ Indian Office (in existence since 1950) to the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs telling them that they committed a grave injustice by excluding most of the Native Americans in NJ of Cherokee and Inter-tribal descent.

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January 10, 2008 letter from Chief Ross to Governor Corzine detailing their complaints regarding The NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs and the report that left out the existence of the two oldest tribes in NJ.

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February 13, 2008 letter from Governor Corzine to Chief Ross saying he will stand by the NJ Commission’s (fatally flawed) report.

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February 19, 2008 Letter from Chief Ross to the Commission explaining that Representatives will read a statement into the record at the February 20, 2008 meeting of the Commission.

The statement was read at the meeting, but the minutes DO NOT reflect that such a statement was ever read.

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The most telling letter of the bunch.  This letter proves that Laura Zucker was able to read the statement into the record – even though no statement was recorded in the Official record.  This letter was sent by the CHAIR of the NJ Commission on Indian Affairs – Lewis Pierce (who does not acknowledge that he is also the Chief of the Nanticokes) yet it was sent on Tribal NANTICOKE letterhead.  A clue if ever there was one that one of the newer tribes is anxious to commandeer the commission and make it synonymous with his own tribe.  

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Must-Read response of Chief Ross to Chairman Pierce of the NJ Indian Commission (who just so happens to be Chief of the Nanticokes) regarding his feeble attempt to shift the blame for the historical genocide onto the special committee established by the Governor.

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Left no other choice, the tribes ask an attorney to contact the State in this email correspondence:

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April Press Release

THE NEW JERSEY INDIAN OFFICE

P.O. BOX 1012, Montague, New Jersey 07827

Est. 1950

The Sand Hill Band of Lenape-Delaware- Cherokee Indians are the oldest documented Band Of Delaware Indians indigenous to Lenapehoking, a.k.a. New Jersey.

Our former Chief, James Revey, wrote and submitted a formal proclamation to New Jersey Governor Kean for official New Jersey State acknowledgment and recognition of the oldest historically documented Tribe of New Jersey, the Lenape-Delaware of the Sand Hill Band of Indians.

Governor Kean subsequently signed the proclamation authored by our Chief, James Revey, a.k.a. Lone Bear, at our recreated traditional Lenape-Delaware village in Stanhope, New Jersey. He was not the first to bestow such recognition upon our peoples.

We, the Sand Hill Band of Lenape-Delaware-Cherokee Indians remain the only Tribe in New Jersey officially recognized by Gubernatorial Proclamation.  We boast a tribal citizenry in excess of two thousand and are governed by a pre-U.S. Constitution, sovereign traditional government of Band Council Members, Band Clan Mothers and an elected Chief. Our Cousins, The Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee), a Sovereign Tribe, is also governed by a pre-U.S. Constitution, and have maintained their own culture and sovereign traditional government of Tribal Council Members, Tribal Clan Mothers, Red and White Chiefs, and a hereditary Chief (elected by Tribal Council) and boast a Tribal membership of 2000 Cherokee and Cherokee/Lenape, making our combined numbers at least 4000 strong.  Our members are scattered throughout the area and a majority of us reside in Bergen, Burlington, Monmouth, Passaic, Sussex and Union Counties. Passaic County is the only county in New Jersey with a Lenape name even though all of the State of New Jersey is officially designated ‘Indian Country’ under U. S. Federal Law.

The town of Montague in Sussex County is the tribal headquarters for the Sand Hills and the City of Elizabeth is the tribal headquarters for the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee). Our tribes are sovereign tribal governments, which receive absolutely NO STATE or FEDERAL funds.

We, the Sand Hill Band of Lenape-Delaware-Cherokee Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) are the oldest continuous uninterrupted Delaware/Cherokee tribal governments who are indigenous to New Jersey and have never been contacted by any office of the State of New Jersey for any type of assistance.

Therefore, WE ARE NOW DEMANDING an investigation into all matters addressed in our letter to Sen. Codey and (emailed) cc-d to all Senators, Assemblymen/women; some New Jersey US Congressmen and Senators, to do an immediate investigation to find out what Federal and State Native American Monies were received by the State of New Jersey and why was it only allocated to the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation, the Nanticoke of Maryland-Delaware, and the Powhatan Rappahannock of Virginia- What happened to and where did the monies for the Sand Hill Band of Lenape-Delaware-Cherokee Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) go? Why was a Commission permitted to remove a Tribal designation that only the State Legislature can grant and/or take away? What has been the role of the Secretary of State?  What will their actions cost the State of New Jersey.

Understand that WE have retained legal counsel.

Be advised that Chief Holloway will be speaking for the Chiefs and Tribes involved.  If you have any questions and/or wish to speak with Chief Holloway of the Sand Hill Band of Indians, please contact Laura I. Zucker and she will arrange a discussion between reporters and Chief Holloway

Thank you- Laura I. Zucker (for Chief Dr. Carroll Medicine Crow, the Sand Hill Band of Lenape-Delaware-Cherokee Indians and Chief Darius J. Two Bears Ross, the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee)

May 6, 2008 Letter from the NJ Indian Office to Codey giving the state yet another chance to correct this awful mistake. This letter also comes up with a possible motive for this whole story – $$$

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Letter from Chief Holloway to a group representing themselves as the Sand Hill Historical Society without permission of the Sand Hill Band of Indians.  

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I have more info on Flickr – such as Sand Hill Tribal Census data from 2007.  The Tribal Councils and Chiefs know who belongs to the tribes.  It is a pity that the Governor is letting a few bad actors with hidden agendas control the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs to the point that over HALF of the people the Commission should serve are being not only ignored, but treated as if they never existed.  With that, I will leave you with something written last Thanksgiving by the Tribes who are facing historical genocide, condoned by our own Secretary of State.

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Why is NJ Commission on Indian Affairs Committing Historical Genocide?

I am going to share a true NJ story.  A story that encompasses over 400 years of tradition and rich history.  A true story of New Jersey natives that have contributed so much to NJ history, NJ lore and our present successes too.  They have been here in NJ for literally CENTURIES.  Then I am going to share with you all how that rich history is unfortunately now being REWRITTEN by others and our own NJ state government for reasons that are not quite clear.  

My hope is that when I am done with this tale – you will call your state legislators and tell them you want justice for your neighbors and the passage of two bills introduced by Senators Weinberg and Rice in the Senate and Assemblymembers Johnson and Huttle in the Assembly, that are currently stalled in Trenton.

The story begins in 1669, with the recorded presence in Monmouth county of what were known as the Delaware Indians.  Many NJ children learn about the Lenape – one of the Delaware tribes – but they usually do not learn of the Cherokee of NJ.  The Cherokee first visited the Lenape before 1700 at Brotherton Reservation near what is now  Indian Mills in Burlington County.  They came prior to 1700, and have been here since – after  marrying into the Raritan Lenape Tribe at the Brotherton reservation as well as migrating here at least 4 times when forced to leave their homes in Georgia, Virginia, and elsewhere. The first major migration took place in 1711- 1713, when racism and religious intolerance in Georgia and Virginia drove the Keetoowah-Cherokee to NJ.  Five treaties from 1768 to 1777 in Virginia and elsewhere contributed to more migrations, since they ceded all the land to the Colonists AND made the indigenous Cherokee virtual non-entities until 1924, (from 1924 – to 1984, the Bureau of Vital Statistics in Virginia considered them “Negro” and they were discriminated against as such).  In 1779, the Keetoowah Cherokee from Georgia and Virginia and the Lenape renewed their common ties in NJ. They continued to contribute to the history here and by 1827, Benjamin Reevey, of the Sand Hill Band of Indians and Cherokee , had become a US Senator – representing New Jersey.  

Up until the Trail of Tears in 1838, Chief John Ross, as a “Chief in Exile” came to New Jersey to fight against the removal of the Cherokee from Cherokee Territories with the then President, Andrew Jackson.  It was during this time that Chief Ross validated the presence of the Cherokee in this state.  He settled in Monmouth County and established Ross Landing which is still on the New Jersey maps today. He left New Jersey and returned to the Georgia Cherokee to fight against the removal of the Cherokee from their territories which encompassed eight states at that time.

From the 1870’s to the 1920’s the Lenape and Cherokee continued to intermarry and are now referred to as the Sand Hill Band of Indians.  As the economy of our state grew, many of the Sand Hill Band of Indians worked building the Victorian homes in Asbury Park, Neptune, and even Bradley Beach. Others found work in the textile mills of Paterson and settled in the River Street section there.  In the 1920’s other Sand Hill members settled in Passaic and Sussex counties as well.  

The Keetoowah Cherokee here in NJ are traditional and to this very day take part in the rituals and customs of their tribes, speak their own language, as well as participate in NJ society and contribute as professionals and employees – to our lives here.   They belong to a real Native American tribe with a real Chief and Tribal Council, and have retained their culture, their language AND their history to this day.  The Sand Hill Band of Indians, consisting of Lenape and Cherokee, is the only tribe to be recognized by the Delaware Tribes of Oklahoma and the Keetoowah Society of the Cherokee Nation.  The Sand Hill Band of Indians is recognized by the US Government and was – until recently – recognized by the State of NJ as residing in Lenapehoking (the Lenape word for NJ).

Following me so far?

Over time, another group of the Lenape Tuscarora and Cherokee hid in the mountains of Northern NJ and came to be known as the Ramapough Indians.  They stayed hidden as much as possible from the world except to the Sand Hill Band of Indians. Once the Sand Hill group grew larger, another group called the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) from Georgia and other areas formed.

In 1950, Chief James LongBear Reevey of the Sand Hill Band of Indians established the NJ Indian Office in Paterson.  NJ has always been considered part of Indian Country. (Meaning that it is a State that is recognized as having a Native indigenous population).  Chief Sam Beeler of the Sand Hill Band of Indians helped re-establish the Ramapough tribe and helped them become a 5013c – which is why we have heard of the Ramapough Indians today – they are no longer hidden.  However, the Ramapough are now a non-profit corporation.  The Ramapough individuals, if they are one eighth Lenape or Cherokee or Tuscarora, are considered Native American with individual sovereign rights. However, as a Tribal group, they no longer have sovereign status because they are a non profit corporation under NJ Laws.  

Now, in the annals of “no good deed goes unpunished”, in the 1970’s, Chief Beeler of the Sand Hill Band of Indians, who helped re-establish the Ramapough Tribe, – in the longstanding tradition of being generous and welcoming, allowed the Powhatan Ranape (Rappahonock Tribe) of Virginia and the Nanticoke tribe of Delaware-Maryland to NJ.   (There are documents to prove this, which I will put up on the blog as soon as I am able.) What happened next defies logic, fairness, and decency.  The folks put on the NJ Commission for Indian Affairs by NJ did NOT include members of the two tribes of indigenous NJ natives – the Sand Hill Band of Indians, or the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee).  However, the Powhatans and the Nanticokes ARE on the Commission even though they arrived in the 1970’s.

In fact, the Ramapough tribe rep, Nanticoke tribe rep, and the Powhatan rep on the NJ Commission of Indian Affairs have ERASED the history of the Sand Hill Band of Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) from the story.  They have mis-appropriated the history of these two tribes and prevented them from being represented and recognized by the State of NJ.  Although, the Sand Hill Band of Indians has been recognized by previous NJ Governors, Governor Corzine currently refuses to recognize current Principle Chief Darius J. TwoBears Ross of the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee), descendent of Chief Ross –  Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation – (now if that doesn’t make you native American I don’t know what does!), and Principle Chief Dr. Carroll MedicineCrow Holloway of the Sand Hill Band of Indians, and will not permit them to be represented on the Commission.  Also in danger are the historic artifacts on loan to museums in NJ that belong to the Sand Hill Band Of Indians that may fall into the wrong hands.  

According to this report, which the Sand Hill Band of of Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) had NO INPUT on, the NJ Commission on Indian Affairs states and has also somehow convinced Governor Corzine and the Secretary of State in NJ that the ONLY native American tribes in NJ with sovereign status are

1) The Ramapough

2) The Nanticokes

3) The Powhatans

My question, is:

WHY?

What I find so upsetting about this story is the re-writing of people out of their rightful place in history and thus – their rights.  It is estimated that 25 million Native Americans were killed since the Europeans first occupied America.  This story is genocidal in its scope.  How do we feel when the leader of Iran says that the Holocaust did not happen?  I am outraged and offended that the State of NJ is aiding and abetting historical genocide by letting an entire group of people – 30,000 native Americans – most of them comprising Cherokee Lenape and Cherokee peoples living in NJ – RIGHT NOW, go uncounted and unrepresented, because a few with agendas want to erase them from the history books.  

To that end, Senator Weinberg has sent 2 bills to the legislature.   We need to pass these.  The first would see that the Sand Hill Band of Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) – the only two indigenous tribes STILL recognized by other tribes across the nation, would get seats and voices on the Commission representing their respective tribes, just like the other three tribes.  The second would see to it that artifacts, historic sites, and burial grounds get preserved and protected.  Unfortunately, as we speak, a group out of Lincroft, NJ calling themselves the Sand Hill Historical Society and the ‘Neptune Sand Hill Indians’ does not even include certified members of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Indians. This group is in possession of stolen artifacts which are being displayed at the State Museum without permission of the sovereign Sand Hill Band of Indians.  This is a serious violation of the NAPGRA Laws and is a felony which has been reported to the State Police.

Let’s give our true indigenous New Jersey natives back their history AND their voice.  Almost 20,000 of our friends and neighbors – the equivalent of several NJ towns – have been legally stripped of their rights when their history of the Sand Hill Band of Indians and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (Those Who Separated-Cherokee) were wiped off the map, along with perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 inter-tribal members. As someone whose 1st cousins are Native American, (from California), this story affects me deeply.  Historical genocide is appalling anywhere it happens.  We can stop it from happening here in NJ.  Lets rectify this now.  It’s the progressive thing to do.  

Help Senator Weinberg pass these two bills.

But first let’s ask the Governor and the Secretary of State their justification for backing an inaccurate report condoning historical genocide.  What is their agenda for ignoring a population the size of the City of Englewood?  They refuse to address the concerns brought to their attention since January in numerous communications, letters, and phone calls by the two chiefs and Sen. Weinberg, herself, sent directly to the office of the Governor, the Secretary of State, Senate President Codey, and the NJ State Legislature?

Is this how we treat Sovereign Nations these days?

Call your legislators and ask why these bills are stalled in committee……..

UPDATE – Here are the Bills, Sponsors, and Commiitees

For Assembly Bill A205:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2…

Sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle

Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Comm

John F. McKeon, 4 Sloan Street, Suite D & E, South Orange, NJ 07079

Phone:973-275-1113

For Assembly Bill A206:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2…

Sponsored by Assemblyman Gordon Johnson, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle

Assembly State Government Committee

Joan M. Quigley, Chair, 242 Tenth Street, Suite 101, Jersey City, NJ 07302

Phone: 201-217-4614

For Senate Bill: S108

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2…

For Senate Bill: S109:

http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2…

Sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg and Senator Ronald Rice,

Wage, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee

Jim Whelan, Chair, 511 Tilton road, Northfield, NJ 08225

Phone: 609-383-1388