Tag Archive: Cherokee

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.  

“Who is an Indian?”

Osiyo! (hello) ‘n Osda Sunalei (Good Morning), I’ve decided to write this new diary, in the attempt to clear up any misconceptions, and/or misinformation imparted on this blog site regarding this question and obviously an issue with some others. My intention is to impart the truth of the matter regarding who is Native American/Indian? Hopefully, this will clear up any and all misconceptions and misinformation, and/or opinions on the topic by revealing the truth of how things are determined on and in Indian Country (USA)……..

Now, there is no single definition of the term Indian. Determining who is an Native American / Indian can be difficult, even controversial. For example, people who have one-eighth Native Indian blood and seven-eighth Caucasian, Negro, and Hispanic blood may call themselves Indian, but other people might disagree with that characterization. The term Native American Indian, can be defined in either an ethnological (racial) or in a legal sense.  Native Americans / Indians are a distinct race of peoples, as are Caucasians, Negroes, and Mongolian. However, neither in an ethnological nor legal sense is there a universally accepted method of determining who is an Indian.  Each government – Tribal, State, and Federal determines who is Indian for the purposes of that government’s laws and programs. This can result in someone being an Indian under Tribal Law but not under Federal Law, under Federal Law but not under Tribal Law.  

For some programs, anyone of Indian descent is eligible to participate. For other programs, the applicant must have a minimum blood quantum ( often one-fourth Indian blood), and still other programs allow all members of federally recognized Indian Tribes to qualify, regardless of how these tribes have defined the term. As a result of these different standards, the same person may qualify as an Indian for one program but not for another, ( this is known fact).  

With that being all said, allow me to explain further the common practice amongst Native Tribes here in the USA in regards to tribal membership:  Each Native American / Indian Tribe, has eligibility requirements for membership. Many tribes require that a person have at least one-fourth Indian blood to be enrolled, but other tribes less. To become enrolled in some tribes the applicant need only be descended from someone listed on the tribes membership roll.  Fact–Native American / Indian Tribes, have the authority to determine who is an Indian for tribal purpose’s, but not for State or Federal purposes.

Thus, when the federal government distributes federal money to, or creates programs for tribal members, it determines who is eligible, and can ignore the tribe’s membership list and adopt a different standard. Fact–To be considered an Native American / Indian for federal purposes, an individual must have some Indian blood. Consequently, a non- Indian adopted into an Indian Tribe cannot be considered an Indian under Federal Law.  

So, the question that comes to bear is, “Who controls tribal membership : the tribes or the federal government?”.  The answer is, actually they both do. Native American Indian Tribes determine tribal membership for tribal purposes (such as deciding who is eligible to enroll in the tribe), and the federal government determines tribal membership for federal purposes ( such as deciding which tribal members qualify for federal education scholarships andor federally funded medical benefits).  As with all Federal recognized tribes, Congress can limit tribes in their own enrollment policies, but Congress rarely has done this.  

In closing, this brings me to point out the obvious and that is this; Fact- not one Native American / Indian Tribe or organization has the right nor the authority to determine who’s Native/Indian, nor who’s a tribe or not.  They do not have authority to tell another tribe how to exercise their membership policies as it has been explained earlier on in this diary.  The Tribes have the inherent authority to determine who can join the tribe, If a tribe lost this power, they would not control their future. Tribal authority to determine membership includes the power to disenroll (take membership away from)  a person. It also includes the right to adopt persons into the tribe which benefits of membership they will have.  A tribe’s ability to determine its membership lies at the very core of tribal self- determination. There is perhaps no greater intrusion upon tribal sovereignty than to interfere with a sovereign tribe’s membership determination policies.  

No tribe has the right, nor authority to dictate to another tribe on its tribal policies on who they have determined to be Indian for the purposes of their tribal membership or sovereignty.  Not one tribe has the right nor authority to impose questions in regards to their tribal membership rolls or question their tribal by-laws, it is not their place to do so and its as simple as that, because that is an intrusion on the tribal sovereignty and tribal business. The bottom line is this, in Indian Country (USA), its common place to determine ” who is Native/Indian” by the following : One must have Native/Indian blood one-fourth or more. One must be recognized as Native/Indian by a Native/Indian community. One must be able to trace one’s ancestry back to a descendant of a Native American/Indian Tribe. These are the qualifiers that have been used, and used today for determining who is Indian by the Native community as a whole. This is also based upon Federal law as well.

I hope that I’ve cleared up any and all misconceptions that people have on this subject matter.    “Wado/Wanishi”…… ” Ah-nah-gee-ss-dee Nahs-squah Oo-ney tlah-nuh-he” (Go with God)……Chief Ross

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.




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




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.

Sand Hill12-28-06

Sand Hill12-28-06pg2

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.



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.





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


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.





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.  


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.




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



April Press Release


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 – $$$





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



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.


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:


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:


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


For Assembly Bill A206:


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


For Senate Bill: S109:


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