IN SETTLING WITH THE TRIBE, NEW JERSEY ACKNOWLEDGES IT HAS OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED THE RAMAPOUGH LENAPE NATION AS A TRIBE.
By Daniel Hubbard, Patch Staff | Mar 18, 2019 10:42 pm ET
MAHWAH, NJ — The Ramapough Lenape Nation was formally acknowledged as an American Indian Tribe in a settlement with the state, officials announced Monday.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced that New Jersey has settled an agreement with the tribe and acknowledged it has officially recognized the nation as a tribe since 1980.
The settlement qualifies the tribe for all federal and state benefits that state-recognized tribes are eligible. It also revokes any previous denial of recognition by the state, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
The agreement does not provide the Ramapough Lenape Nation or the Powhatan Renape Nation, with whom the state also settled, with the right to open a casino.
The state also settled with the Powhatan Renape Nation and recognized it as an official Native American tribe.
“Tribal rights are significant rights, and we are glad that, through good faith negotiation, we’ve been able to reach an accord with both the Powhatan and Ramapough nations,” Grewal said. “These two tribes can now move forward without concern that state-level recognition issues will in any way impede their progress.”
The Ramapough have been locked in a long legal battle with the township regarding land the tribe has used as a prayer and religious site.
The tribe filed a 12-count federal lawsuit against the township in May 2018. The Ramapough claim in their complaint that their First and 14th Amendment constitutional rights were violated and the town has illegally fined them $480,000 in summons fines for illegally erecting structures on the land, which is at the mouth of the Ramapo and Mahwah rivers.
The structures were erected in protest of the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, part of which would run through New Jersey, and the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Monday the township violated the tribe’s constitutional rights. The town interfered with the tribe’s right to assemble on the site as permitted under the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person’s Act of 2000.