UN Forum on Indigenous Issues Visits NJ

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On Wednesday, November 17, representatives from the   UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues came to Fairleigh Dickinson in Teaneck for an informative lecture and film presentation.  The main speakers were the Chair of the Permanent Forum as well as Ms. Tonya Gonnella Frichner of the Onandaga Nation, a current member of the UNPFII.

The focus was on how the UNPFII is structured to help indigenous peoples all over the world deal with issues ranging from genocide to near-slavery to the theft of natural resources.  It was a clear-eyed look at the power, and the limitations of what the UN can do.  The film shown, is available here.

For example, the UN often is the ONLY recourse for indigenous people who are being oppressed by their own governments. That is the nature of the conflict, the powerful oppressing the powerless.  Usually because the indigenous peoples were shepherding and caring for their environment and living in concert with the land for millennia, that land is now the majority of the land that is now unspoiled by development, and a large natural target for the greedy eye of developing nations and multi-national corporations, who have no allegiance to the countries they exploit.

The dilemma of the indigenous people is dire without the aid and intervention of the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous Issues.  The Forum was made Permanent because of the incredible importance of protecting the human rights of people around the world.  We think of indigenous here as meaning Native Americans, but there are over 70 countries around the world with indigenous populations under similar and constant threats to their very existence.

What the UNPFII gives the indigenous peoples of the world, is an amplified voice.   A voice that while not heard in the halls of power in the countries they inhabit is heard loud and clear in the UN building in New York.  By allowing the representatives of indigenous peoples literally a Forum to tell their story to the rest of the world, they create hope by starting the dialogue.  Often Governments that turned a deaf ear to the urgent complaints of the indigenous peoples at home, are suddenly shamed into listening to those same voices, by having their human rights violations and crimes against humanity exposed to the rest of the world.  Since the UN cannot force a country to do the right thing, the UN can shine a light on a country to expose the truth and the opinion of the rest of the world can be brought to bear.  

An interesting point brought up by the Chairman of the UNPFII was that once world opinion turns on a practice by a country or multi-national, the World Bank, which finances development around the world, can weigh in, and refuse to fund development that destroys indigenous land and resources.   That is one way in which the pressure brought to bear by the UNPFII can have a monetary impact.

There is also the office of the Special Rapporteur.  This office is charged with investigating human rights violations against indigenous peoples and working to formulate solutions among all the agency bodies involved.

As I sat in the audience listening, I was having a flashback to April of this year when the Red Chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape Indians, Dr. Ronald Yonaguska Holloway appeared before the UNPFII and addressed the General Assembly.  Chief Holloway is practically the NJ poster child for exactly how the UN works to help indigenous peoples all over the world.  Being oppressed by the Government of NJ and threatened with being historically wiped out because of the NJ Indian Commission stacked with folks who either aren’t indigenous to NJ or are not even a real Indian Tribe, they are being denied a voice in Government even though the Department of the Interior as well as The Smithsonian, has for years considered the Sand Hill the very last continuously operating indigenous Lenape tribe left in NJ.  Chief Holloway appealed to the UN when the courts in NJ would not let his lawsuit against the state proceed even to discovery – let alone a real trial.  The UN responded and took up his case and allowed him a voice at the Forum in April.  That was the starting point for real dialogue which is now taking place.

The event on the November 17th was an important one.  The room was packed with College students, local residents interested in the issue, professors of political science and history, and only a few Native Americans.  Many in the room were just being introduced to the issues being discussed, which is a major step forward. Too often indigenous issues are not known among the larger community – but the UN and Fairleigh Dickinson hope to change that.

Chief Holloway politely raised a hand to ask just two questions.  Chief Holloway introduced himself and expressed greetings from the other Chiefs who could not attend, upon which Ms. Frichner expressed how pleased she was he was able to be there and that she was honored to be in his presence.  It was very different than how  I observed Chief Holloway being treated at the NJ Indian Commission, which still refuses to recognize his tribe and is the source of his complaint with NJ.

The first question Chief Holloway asked was if the US had reached out to the UN to even start to address the 500 tribes still in the United States that the government has not yet negotiated with to solve the “Indian Problem”.  The answer, sadly was “no”.  The US is now the ONLY country who has NOT signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Chief Holloway’s  next question had to do with the fact that although the event that evening was fabulous, he expressed regret that he only learned of it just before he was about to board a plane that day.  He only found out about it because his government liaison read about it in the local paper. Perhaps there could be better communication with the NJ tribes. It all made sense to me just then.  The “Indigenous” person who greeted the crowd was none other than Dwayne Perry, the colorful CEO of the Ramapough Mountain people, who fancies himself a Chief, even though he is CEO of a non-profit corporation.  The Ramapough formed a non-profit corporation in the 1970’s. According to the Smithsonian, up to that point they were a mestizo group of Dutch, African, and mixed Native American blood who lived in a close knit community called the Jackson Whites.  For that reason, the Federal Government does not recognize the Ramapough as a tribe in the legal sense, because they are actually not a tribe. The NJ courts also consider the Ramapough simply a non-profit corporation, not a tribe, and certainly not a “Lenape Nation”.  

Unfortunately, the head of the NJ Indian Commission is a member of the Ramapough.  Therein lies the problem, it appears that a fake Indian tribe is preventing the real one from any representation in government.

I ran into an organizer for the event who came up to Chief Holloway afterward and said that she saw him speak at the UN in April and that she very much wanted to get him for this event only to be stymied at how to contact him.  Ramapough CEO Dwayne Perry knows darn well how to contact Chief Holloway, which may explain why Perry seemed so distracted to see Chief Holloway staring back at him from the second row directly in front of the podium.  Had Perry perhaps been secretly trying to prevent Holloway from coming to an event of this magnitude?  Was Perry perhaps thinking he’d be the only NJ “Indian” in the room besides his Ramapough friend who played a small drum during the opening prayer?  That may explain why, when a real Lenape Indian Chief showed up, CEO Perry instantly became the incredible shrinking man.  His rambling incoherent question during the question and answer session, further gave the appearance that Perry was thrown.  There are enough governmental/organizations who know Chief Holloway and by association must know his story –  that “Chief” Perry is not a real Indian Chief and his tribe is not technically a tribe but a Native American entity, and friends of his who sit on the Indian Commission are at the heart of Chief Holloway’s very complaint.  

The history of Chief Holloway’s tribe is being systematically wiped out by a group of folks who appear to be trying to steal it and claim it for their own with the blessing of the government of NJ.  They had almost once again succeeded in keeping the real last Lenape Tribe from being seen or heard from. Once again, fortunately, they had failed.

Sand Hill Case Judges Under Fire

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For any info or questions regarding this story, please email runstream@aol.com

crossposted at Daily Kos: http://www.dailykos.com/story/…

On June 30, 2010 Judge Katherine Hayden ruled that she will NOT allow the last Lenape tribe in NJ to use most of the evidence, facts and data that proves their case.  Things like Title VI, the 14th Amendment, the Ku Klux Klan Act, the Non-Intercourse Act, State contract law, Federal laws protecting burial grounds & artifacts, and enforcement of treaties. Essentially EVERYTHING – laws, facts, precedent, that would result in the oldest Indian Tribe in NJ winning their case.

Before the tribe was represented by legal counsel, Chairman Ronald Holloway, Red Chief in a long line stemming from the original Lenape Blood Chiefs, addressed his tribe’s right to water rights, natural resources, hunting rights and the over 3000 acres of land that from 1758 to 1802 was known as Brotherton Reservation. Chairman Holloway did this in nearly 100 pages of documents that referenced Indian cases from across the nation and long accepted and understood Federal law.  

Believing that he could represent his tribe in an official capacity as the head of a sovereign nation, Ron Holloway, an expert in Treaty law and Sovereignty, hit a brick wall when dealing with the Federal judges in Newark. Apparently there are two kinds of laws – one that applies to the plaintiffs in this case, and one that applies to the defendants. An obvious failure of Equal Protection under the law is going on in this case. And it always seems to favor the defendants rather than the Tribe.

The timeline of the case gives you a good glimpse of the travesty of justice that is unfolding in the Federal Court in Newark.

Even when a plaintiff is not schooled in the myriad technicalities of legalese, they are still entitled to justice, and when a person represents themselves in court, it is hoped that justice will still prevail. Most folks who represent themselves in court are given the benefit of the doubt and not treated as if they were asking to be cheated of a fair outcome just because they did not cross every” t” or dot every “I”.

Unfortunately, at the very same time that Ron Holloway was given strict deadlines and his motions were being swiftly denied, his opponents were given such leeway over missing deadlines, filing motions, AND filing answers that it strains credulity. Ordinarily, the way our legal system is supposed to work is: You completely ignore a complaint, you earn a default judgment against you – You basically lose by default. You are implicitly acknowledging the plaintiff has a case and you can’t answer the complaint because you have no excuse. You are admitting guilt by default.

The way the judge let the defendants miss important deadlines by MONTHS while requesting incredibly difficult hoops for Holloway to jump through appears to be reminiscent of a courtroom prior to the Civil Rights Act of 1963. Incredibly the court informed Holloway that he could not bring anyone with him to the first hearing held by the court. He was bothered by this because he felt as if he was walking into an ambush – which turned out to be exactly the case. Upon entering the Courtroom, there seated in a chair was a Star Ledger reporter with alleged ties to the defendants in Trenton. Obviously violating the order that no one unconnected to the case be present , why didn’t the Judge demand the removal of the reporter as Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring to his own to guarantee that all sides would be made public?

The Judge then denied Holloway’s motions for default judgments against the defendants who had so cavalierly disregarded court-ordered deadlines. It appeared that in matters routine and consequential, the bare minimum standards of court rules for the defendants were sloppily applied – if at all. Not only did the court allow the defendants to miss deadlines for months, they allowed those defendants who had answered the complaint to ALSO jump onto other defendants motion to dismiss, which the court took a FULL NINE MONTHS to consider. At the same time, the State and County defendants disingenuously claimed that they didn’t know what the tribe wanted and that the tribe failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, the defendants were able to write detailed motions to dismiss in which they specifically countered each and every claim made by the tribe, which at that time did not have an attorney.

By the time that the defendants filed their motions to dismiss, the tribe had retained legal Counsel. Their attorney wrote the opposition to the motions. The tribe’s attorney, in the tribe’s opposition to the motions, was able to successfully counter each argument made by the defendants. In addition, their attorney was able to add legal language that addressed some grave injustices that were mentioned in the complaint. Judge Hayden states in her decision that she relied solely upon what the untrained plaintiffs wrote in the complaint and did not consider the more accurate arguments made by their attorney in the opposition. (Remember, it took Judge Hayden 9 months to arrive at this decision, and she had a lot of help from the State defendants, the Indian Commission, and a lone self-proclaimed “Sand Hill” Indian named Clare Garland). The Judge had more than enough time to consider the newly introduced opposition to the motions that was submitted by the Tribe’s Attorney. The Judge chose to ignore it.

According to the rumor mill, representatives from the U.S. came into New Jersey to conduct an investigation in an effort to “do away with” this case, and allegedly Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz were working closely with them. Meanwhile, State officials and members of the Indian Commission were establishing a close relationship with Ms. Claire Garland, a lone “Sand Hill” Indian who claimed that Mr. Holloway and other members of the tribe were fake and not really members of the original Richardson-Revey Sand Hill family. In actuality, more than 70% of the current membership of Holloway’s tribe are direct descendants of the Richardson-Revey family, making Garland’s argument absurd and the 70% of the family members belonging to the tribe that has filed this lawsuit mighty unhappy with her.

Apparently, the State of New Jersey had decided it was in their best interest to place a representative of the Sand Hill Indians on the Indian Commission (after all, the Sand Hill tribe is the oldest tribe in the State of New Jersey and the only legitimate descendants of the Lenape Indians of New Jersey). Ms. Garland was allegedly promised a seat on the Indian Commission pending the outcome of this case, even though she is NOT a member of the Sand Hill tribe. Being that she is not a member of the tribe, how can she be appointed as a representative of that tribe?

After some pressure from the tribe asking for a ruling on the motion, Judge Hayden (in what seems to have been a final desperate effort to get rid of the case) silently permitted Ms. Garland to file a single letter with the court in which she states that Mr. Holloway is not a legitimate Sand Hill Indian. In the letter to the court, Garland accuses him of trying to steal the Sand Hill history. Remember: Mr. Holloway, who is a legitimate member of the tribe and an officer is just acting as a representative for the Sand Hill Indians (the plaintiffs) who will ultimately benefit from a favorable decision in this case, including the 70% of the tribe’s members are who are directly/indirectly related to Ms. Garland.

Judge Hayden used her judicial discretion (over the clearly stated federal rules) and strongly considered this letter submitted by a supposedly anonymous individual, who herself was not required to prove her own ancestry to the Sand Hill Indians. The federal rules require a nonparty individual to file a formal motion and to make some kind of official appearance to the Judge explaining who she is. Then the Sand Hill Indians should have gotten a chance to respond to these allegations. This was NEVER done.

Judge Hayden just quietly let this letter be filed and did not say anything, then she blasted the tribe in her final decision, saying they were not a legitimate tribe and relying solely on what Ms. Garland said without any discovery or cross examination.

Consequently, the entire second amended complaint was dismissed. However, for whatever reason, at the very end of the decision, Judge Hayden again used her judicial discretion in a strange and bizarre twist. It stated that the tribe would be allowed to file a third amended complaint.  Strange, considering she just obliterated the second amended complaint – leaving nothing left to amend.

It took nine months for the Judge to do the above. Meanwhile the tribe’s attorney twice filed motions to amend the complaint based on new information showing that the Treaty of Easton was a fraud, because the British didn’t even negotiate the treaty with the New Jersey Lenape Indians.  In fact, the New Jersey Lenape Indians did not even attend the negotiations.

The first motion (filed in November 2009) was immediately terminated by Judge Schwartz, who used her discretionary power to squash the motion to amend until after the motion to dismiss was decided. The tribe continued to wait several more months but did not stop their investigation and gathering of evidence, much to what would turn out to be the chagrin of the courts. During the course of the nine month hiatus that the court gave to the Tribe, the tribe came across the documentation that the State of New York swindled the Lenape Indians out of what is now called Manhattan in exchange for a copper kettle and some beads; as well as the State of Pennsylvania having swindled the Lenape Indians out of land now called Bucks County by tricking them into a fraudulent agreement.

Once again, during the nine month hiatus, the tribe’s attorney filed a motion to amend the complaint so they could add these new parties (NY and PA). Judge Schwartz had twice before Ordered that the tribe would be allowed to amend in order to join additional parties, but decided again to use her discretion and terminated this motion. Judge Hayden knew that what Judge Schwartz did was wrong, so she left a tiny door open for the tribe to file a third amended complaint. But, there were a few conditions. . . .

Judge Schwartz then issued an Order of explanation on 7/1/10 in which she says that the tribe can file a third amended complaint, but they cannot use any of the federal or state claims that they initially used (i.e. Non-Intercourse Act, Title VI, 14th Amendment, etc.) and they could not just state new facts without coming up with some different law to support the facts. In addition, the tribe could not use any State law claims because the court decided it would not bother looking at them. Judge Schwartz also said that the defendants would have the option to file one big joint motion to dismiss or file separate Answers denying everything. These conditions were made because it seemed like the tribe had exhausted every possible federal claim that had ever been made by any other Indian tribe throughout legal history. The Court thought it had the plaintiffs up against the wall with nowhere to turn by denying them the ability to use the evidence that they had spent years acquiring.

The tribe’s attorney who had never experienced this type of arrangement before, wrote a letter to the court asking for clarification on the 7/1/10 Order. To further restrict the plaintiffs’ rights, Judge Schwartz clarified her decision and took the opportunity to add that if the tribe filed a third amended complaint, they were essentially agreeing not to appeal the second amended complaint. This tactic would ensure that the tribe would be denied their right to appeal to the third circuit court.

According to the underground rumor mill, the third circuit court of appeals did not want to have anything to do with this unfair decision and the district court judges had to force this deal upon the tribe to keep it from going to the third circuit.  Ironically, this is similar to what happened to the tribe’s ancestors, who were forced to take reservation land that they did not ask for- meaning- it’s non-negotiable. Even more confusing was the fact that both Judge Schwartz and Judge Hayden said (in different Orders) that the tribe’s attorney had voluntarily dismissed all of the counties in her opposition to the massive motion to dismiss. The tribe’s attorney attempted to rectify the matter long before the final decision was made on 6/30/10. The Judge refused to consider any explanation from the tribe’s attorney and Judge Hayden ruled that the voluntary dismissal was final. This is in spite of the rules that say that a voluntary dismissal is not final until after the plaintiffs’ attorney signs an affidavit and gets all of the defendants to sign it and they all agree that this decision is final. This was not done.

When the tribe’s attorney filed the third amended complaint based upon different and unexplored federal and international law that had not previously been raised in the second amended complaint (not an easy task), she only named the States (NJ, NY, PA) and also added the United States as the defendants. She believed that the voluntary dismissal was separate and apart from the court’s order of 6/30/10, which dismissed every claim based on federal law. (This keeps getting more and more confusing and complicated, but hang in there).

At the same time, the tribe’s attorney filed a motion to reinstate the second amended complaint against the county defendants because this seemed to be the only way to undo the voluntary dismissal and, according to the court rules, the voluntary dismissal was not final anyway. As it turns out, she could have added the counties onto the third amended complaint and filing this motion to reinstate just confused matters further. Ultimately, the tribe’s attorney did withdraw the motion to reinstate and advised the court that she would seek to amend a fourth time in order to add the counties, which she is permitted to do under the court rules. Of course, Judge Schwartz is hinting that this should have been done in the first place and the tribe’s attorney might have to come up with a darn good explanation as to why she did not just add the counties onto the third amended complaint in the first place (see above for reason why – they weren’t allowed to use anything from previous motions). In the third amended complaint, the tribe alleged that the 3 states and the United States had entered into fraudulent treaties with the Lenape Indians (or in some cases no treaty was ever signed) because the Lenape Indians did not understand what was going on and they were cheated out of thousands and thousands of acres of land in exchange for some booze, trinkets, beads, and some supplies.

As it turns out, there is an international law that says all treaties are governed by international law, and according to U.S. federal law, all groups of Indians were treated as sovereign nations. Therefore agreements made with Indians are treaties and not contracts. Also, according to international law, if a treaty is entered into fraudulently, it is considered to be null and void.

Under the U.S. Supremacy Clause, a federal court can review a claim regarding the violation of a treaty, and it does not have to be filed with the World Court in the Netherlands. Therefore, the judges seem to have jurisdiction over these matters, which they don’t allegedly want to exercise. The Sand Hills are using an entirely different approach than what was addressed in the second amended complaint and the defendants have to come up with a whole new strategy to try and get the third amended complaint dismissed. If the tribe can’t rely on the same federal law claims it made before, the defendants can’t either . . . or can they????? Hopefully it won’t be another nine months.

As of this writing, each State defendant has already filed their motion to dismiss. The U.S. has not yet filed its response as of the writing of this diary.

The tribe has until 9/7/10 to file oppositions, then the states get another crack at it and they can submit a reply. Anyway, the whole thing is supposed to be decided by the Court on 9/20/10. The tribe filed a motion to enter default judgment against the U.S. since they did not comply with the court’s 7-1-10 Order and they missed the deadline.

The tribe’s attorney also filed a motion asking both Judge Shwartz and Judge Hayden to recuse (disqualify) themselves from this case since neither one of them can seem to maintain an unbiased, fair, and just position in their rulings. That motion was supposed to be decided on August 16, 2010. The tribe is still waiting . . . . and will probably continue to wait because, like this entire case, the complaint of bias has MERIT.

After 400 years, the tribe is STILL waiting for justice. Outside the Court in Newark is a large statue of blind justice. Inside, however, there appear to be a couple of blind judges. Blind to truth, justice, decency, historical evidence, and the rights of all plaintiffs to Equal Protection under the law. Let’s see what happens next. They can’t continue this way. International law is on the Tribe’s side on this one. The more the judges stall the case, the bigger it gets. It is now literally epic in scope. It is now the largest land case ever brought by a Native American tribe against the United States. Before it gets bigger, these two judges should recuse themselves from this case, because it is dubious that they can actually explain how on earth their actions and rulings can in any sense be called impartial.

It might behoove the United States to come to the negotiation table and remove this from the courts, because nine more months granted by this the Federal Court in Newark, will enable the Sand Hill to find even more concrete iron-clad evidence to add to their case and hand two Judges in Newark even more rope to entangle themselves in.

Sand Hill Lawsuit – Legal Timeline

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.

February 17, 2009 – The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians files the first Complaint in a lawsuit against the State of NJ for genocide, treaty violations, and civil rights violations. #2:09-cv-683. The initial filing was for a three judge court in Philadelphia.

March 25, 2009 and April 7, 2009 – Judge Patty Schwartz in Federal District Court in Newark issued scheduling orders to meet on April 21, 2009 about a discovery plan prior to a Rule 16 conference.

April 21, 2009, Imagine Chief Holloway’s surprise when he walked into Courtroom No 10 on April 21 into what WAS a Rule 16 hearing. Not only that, but all the defendants were told to bring counsel. Not all of them did. The State Attorney General was actually permitted to argue even though the State of NJ had not even answered the complaint yet.

Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring anyone into the Court room with him for this meeting that actually turned into a Rule 16 hearing. The defendants brought in a reporter from the Star Ledger who is friendly with Trenton, after which a story dismissive of Chief Holloway’s case was published. Believe me, if I was allowed in – I would have been there. But the Plaintiff was specifically instructed by the court not to bring anyone with him. Why exactly?

April 23, 2009 The Court orders the Sand Hill to retain legal counsel and will not permit Chief Holloway to represent his own tribe. The court only gives Chief Holloway 2 weeks to comply and retain an attorney and just two weeks after that to file their complaint.

“It is further ordered that no discovery may take place unless the motion to dismiss is denied and until the Court enters a scheduling order”

“No further amendments will be permitted, except to permit the petitioners to ask to join additional parties.”

Italics mine.

May 8 – Deadline given to Sand Hill tribe to retain an attorney in the April 23 Court Order.

May 22 – Deadline given to Sand Hill for their newly retained attorney (if they are able to somehow quickly procure one) to file their complete complaint as ordered by the court on April 23.

Chief Holloway was asked to do the near impossible – retain an attorney and have the entire complaint submitted in mere DAYS, (which he did.) In contrast, the Court allowed defendants who did not answer the complaint in a timely way or at all, until June 26 to file a motion to dismiss. Some were given until July 2, 2009. Monmouth County was given till OCTOBER. Chief Holloway requested default judgments against the defendants who had not bothered to even answer the complaint, but the judge denied the request.

June 26 – Deadline for the Defendants to file motion to dismiss.

July 2 – Deadline for the defendants to jump onto the Motion to dismiss.

July 20, 2009 – Deadline for Chief Holloway to file opposition to the motion to dismiss.

August 3, 2009 – New Court date scheduled – never happened. Oral arguments were NOT granted although both sides requested them.

October 2009 – Monmouth County FINALLY answers the complaint. The Judge lets them join the motion to dismiss.

The rub for the court is that if the motion to dismiss is denied, the case can go to discovery where Chief Holloway will finally be permitted to prove his ancestry, which he was prepared to do when he filed the lawsuit. Consequently, the Judge is put in a Catch 22. Deny the claim to avoid discovery, have it appealed and moved to Philadelphia, where discovery would happen anyway, or deny the motion to dismiss, and allow the trial to go to discovery which would allow the Sand Hills to get a fair and impartial hearing which allegedly would ruin a promising law career with the political power brokers in Trenton.

What to do, what to do…. What would save a Judge from a dilemma like this? Well, to never, ever, rule on the motion to dismiss, or to simply take early retirement. Which allegedly appears to be the fork taken here. Allegedly Judge Hayden took early retirement leaving the case to Judge Patty Schwartz who does not appear as if she will ever rule on that motion to dismiss. It appears the court is trying to avoid discovery.

However, despite the glacial approach to the motion to dismiss, it took Judge Schwartz less than 24 HOURS to dismiss the third amended complaint which was amended to add parties to the lawsuit – the very thing allowed, according to the court order of April 23, 2009. It also appears that Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz had ex parte verbal requests from defendants’ counsel and issued Orders as if the docket had actually been reviewed.

And so to recap – the original motion to dismiss was filed by the defendants at the Rule 16 hearing, even though there was not supposed to be ANY motions filed that day. Chief Holloway then filed opposition in time, even though he surprised the court by doing so. Most of the defendants had replied by August when they were supposed to have replied by June 26.

November 23, 2010 – The court orders no more motions until a “conference” takes place. That conference still has not happened as of this writing.

January, 2010, MONTHS later, Sand Hill Counsel asked WHEN the court would finally rule on the motion to dismiss and was told the court was in no particular hurry to ever schedule it.

June 4, 2010 – The Sand Hill legal counsel filed a complaint with the Third District Court of Appeals in Philadelphia regarding what appears to be violations of the Judicial Misconduct Act Section 3(h)(1), and 3(h)(3)(B).

June 16, 2010 – the Sand Hill file the Third Amended Complaint that adds parties to the lawsuit – which is specifically allowed by the Court Order of April 23, 2009. New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania are now involved in addition to New Jersey.

June 16, 2010 Assistant Essex County Counsel arrogantly requests that the 3rd Amended Complaint is dismissed and tells Judge Patty Schwartz about using sanctions against the Sand Hill for having the temerity to file an amended complaint which was actually allowed under the April 23 Court Order.

June 17, 2010 ONE DAY after the 3rd amended complaint is filed that joins other parties to the lawsuit, the Judge DENIES the 3rd Amended complaint without prejudice. She basically punts so that the Sand Hill can bring it up again later, and she doesn’t have to deal with it now. She has effectively “tabled” it.

June 17, 2010, Sand Hill legal Counsel Arleen Richards requests that the Judge deny Essex County’s request to strike the 3rd Amended Complaint as an improper request because the April 23, 2009 court order allows it.

June 22, 2010 – Based on the Court’s summary denial of the 3rd Amended Complaint before the “ink was even dry”, and the appearance of purposely avoiding discovery for months by not ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Sand Hill have formally requested of the UN Special Rappateur that the case go to the World Court.

The case at this moment has not been dismissed and the motion to dismiss has not been denied. Which is why the Tribe has appealed to the UN for a genocide case that allegedly appears to be stalled purposely, where there allegedly appears to be a double standard for how the defendants and the plaintiffs are treated by the Federal District Court in Newark.

The reason why the motion to dismiss is such a problem for the defendants is that they are basing their argument on state law, whereas any case involving Native Americans is clearly FEDERAL in nature. The defendants have no legal basis for their motion to dismiss because the motion to dismiss is based on NJ law. The plaintiff argues that the complaint is a violation of the Non-Intercourse Act which is written and enforced by CONGRESS. The Judge has also failed to issue an order regarding the request for a declaratory judgment that would declare once and for all if FEDERAL law applies or STATE law.

The interesting thing is, the UN has the documentation, and evidence, and has already done investigations of its own validating his claims BEFORE meeting with Chief Holloway. In stark contrast, the Federal government has NO IDEA what evidence the Sand Hill tribe has, because the action of one Judge in Newark is preventing discovery. The Federal government is at a clear disadvantage should this go to the World Court.

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Sand Hill Lawsuit – Legal Timeline

( – promoted by navajo)

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.

February 17, 2009 – The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians files the first Complaint in a lawsuit against the State of NJ for genocide, treaty violations, and civil rights violations. #2:09-cv-683. The initial filing was for a three judge court in Philadelphia.

March 25, 2009 and April 7, 2009 – Judge Patty Schwartz in Federal District Court in Newark issued scheduling orders to meet on April 21, 2009 about a discovery plan prior to a Rule 16 conference.

April 21, 2009, Imagine Chief Holloway’s surprise when he walked into Courtroom No 10 on April 21 into what WAS a Rule 16 hearing. Not only that, but all the defendants were told to bring counsel. Not all of them did. The State Attorney General was actually permitted to argue even though the State of NJ had not even answered the complaint yet.

Chief Holloway was not permitted to bring anyone into the Court room with him for this meeting that actually turned into a Rule 16 hearing. The defendants brought in a reporter from the Star Ledger who is friendly with Trenton, after which a story dismissive of Chief Holloway’s case was published. Believe me, if I was allowed in – I would have been there. But the Plaintiff was specifically instructed by the court not to bring anyone with him. Why exactly?

April 23, 2009 The Court orders the Sand Hill to retain legal counsel and will not permit Chief Holloway to represent his own tribe. The court only gives Chief Holloway 2 weeks to comply and retain an attorney and just two weeks after that to file their complaint.

“It is further ordered that no discovery may take place unless the motion to dismiss is denied and until the Court enters a scheduling order”

“No further amendments will be permitted, except to permit the petitioners to ask to join additional parties.”

Italics mine.

May 8 – Deadline given to Sand Hill tribe to retain an attorney in the April 23 Court Order.

May 22 – Deadline given to Sand Hill for their newly retained attorney (if they are able to somehow quickly procure one) to file their complete complaint as ordered by the court on April 23.

Chief Holloway was asked to do the near impossible – retain an attorney and have the entire complaint submitted in mere DAYS, (which he did.) In contrast, the Court allowed defendants who did not answer the complaint in a timely way or at all, until June 26 to file a motion to dismiss. Some were given until July 2, 2009. Monmouth County was given till OCTOBER. Chief Holloway requested default judgments against the defendants who had not bothered to even answer the complaint, but the judge denied the request.

June 26 – Deadline for the Defendants to file motion to dismiss.

July 2 – Deadline for the defendants to jump onto the Motion to dismiss.

July 20, 2009 – Deadline for Chief Holloway to file opposition to the motion to dismiss.

August 3, 2009 – New Court date scheduled – never happened. Oral arguments were NOT granted although both sides requested them.

October 2009 – Monmouth County FINALLY answers the complaint. The Judge lets them join the motion to dismiss.

The rub for the court is that if the motion to dismiss is denied, the case can go to discovery where Chief Holloway will finally be permitted to prove his ancestry, which he was prepared to do when he filed the lawsuit. Consequently, the Judge is put in a Catch 22. Deny the claim to avoid discovery, have it appealed and moved to Philadelphia, where discovery would happen anyway, or deny the motion to dismiss, and allow the trial to go to discovery which would allow the Sand Hills to get a fair and impartial hearing which allegedly would ruin a promising law career with the political power brokers in Trenton.

What to do, what to do…. What would save a Judge from a dilemma like this? Well, to never, ever, rule on the motion to dismiss, or to simply take early retirement. Which allegedly appears to be the fork taken here. Allegedly Judge Hayden took early retirement leaving the case to Judge Patty Schwartz who does not appear as if she will ever rule on that motion to dismiss. It appears the court is trying to avoid discovery.

However, despite the glacial approach to the motion to dismiss, it took Judge Schwartz less than 24 HOURS to dismiss the third amended complaint which was amended to add parties to the lawsuit – the very thing allowed, according to the court order of April 23, 2009. It also appears that Judge Hayden and Judge Schwartz had ex parte verbal requests from defendants’ counsel and issued Orders as if the docket had actually been reviewed.

And so to recap – the original motion to dismiss was filed by the defendants at the Rule 16 hearing, even though there was not supposed to be ANY motions filed that day. Chief Holloway then filed opposition in time, even though he surprised the court by doing so. Most of the defendants had replied by August when they were supposed to have replied by June 26.

November 23, 2010 – The court orders no more motions until a “conference” takes place. That conference still has not happened as of this writing.

January, 2010, MONTHS later, Sand Hill Counsel asked WHEN the court would finally rule on the motion to dismiss and was told the court was in no particular hurry to ever schedule it.

June 4, 2010 – The Sand Hill legal counsel filed a complaint with the Third District Court of Appeals in Philadelphia regarding what appears to be violations of the Judicial Misconduct Act Section 3(h)(1), and 3(h)(3)(B).

June 16, 2010 – the Sand Hill file the Third Amended Complaint that adds parties to the lawsuit – which is specifically allowed by the Court Order of April 23, 2009. New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania are now involved in addition to New Jersey.

June 16, 2010 Assistant Essex County Counsel arrogantly requests that the 3rd Amended Complaint is dismissed and tells Judge Patty Schwartz about using sanctions against the Sand Hill for having the temerity to file an amended complaint which was actually allowed under the April 23 Court Order.

June 17, 2010 ONE DAY after the 3rd amended complaint is filed that joins other parties to the lawsuit, the Judge DENIES the 3rd Amended complaint without prejudice. She basically punts so that the Sand Hill can bring it up again later, and she doesn’t have to deal with it now. She has effectively “tabled” it.

June 17, 2010, Sand Hill legal Counsel Arleen Richards requests that the Judge deny Essex County’s request to strike the 3rd Amended Complaint as an improper request because the April 23, 2009 court order allows it.

June 22, 2010 – Based on the Court’s summary denial of the 3rd Amended Complaint before the “ink was even dry”, and the appearance of purposely avoiding discovery for months by not ruling on the motion to dismiss, the Sand Hill have formally requested of the UN Special Rappateur that the case go to the World Court.

The case at this moment has not been dismissed and the motion to dismiss has not been denied. Which is why the Tribe has appealed to the UN for a genocide case that allegedly appears to be stalled purposely, where there allegedly appears to be a double standard for how the defendants and the plaintiffs are treated by the Federal District Court in Newark.

The reason why the motion to dismiss is such a problem for the defendants is that they are basing their argument on state law, whereas any case involving Native Americans is clearly FEDERAL in nature. The defendants have no legal basis for their motion to dismiss because the motion to dismiss is based on NJ law. The plaintiff argues that the complaint is a violation of the Non-Intercourse Act which is written and enforced by CONGRESS. The Judge has also failed to issue an order regarding the request for a declaratory judgment that would declare once and for all if FEDERAL law applies or STATE law.

The interesting thing is, the UN has the documentation, and evidence, and has already done investigations of its own validating his claims BEFORE meeting with Chief Holloway. In stark contrast, the Federal government has NO IDEA what evidence the Sand Hill tribe has, because the action of one Judge in Newark is preventing discovery. The Federal government is at a clear disadvantage should this go to the World Court.

Why the Sand Hill Indians Went to the UN

( – promoted by navajo)

On February 17, 2009, the oldest indigenous Native American tribe in New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the State of New Jersey, the Governor of New Jersey, the NJ Secretary of State and the NJ Attorney General for, but not limited to, genocide, treaty, and civil rights violations. That lawsuit is still in Federal Court at this moment.  Because of new evidence, the lawsuit has now increased in scope.  The territory involved now includes the Island of Manhattan, the state of Delaware and Eastern Pennsylvania as well as New Jersey.  Holloway’s tribe has now appealed to the UN for assistance, and the case appears as if it may actually move to the World Court.

Unfortunately, in the State Bar Foundation quarterly newsletter Respect, published Spring 2010, the cover story about NJ’s Native Americans repeats the omissions and inaccuracies in the NJ Indian Commission’s Committee report  that prompted the lawsuit in the first place.  It would appear unethical to have a State Bar Association-funded publication, unwittingly or not, publicly take sides in a currently ongoing litigation case and to quote the defendants’ side of the story exclusively.

http://www.njsbf.org/images/co…

The way the article describes only three tribes of Native Americans in New Jersey, makes it obvious why the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway, may not get a fair Federal trial in the State of NJ.  Chief Holloway’s tribe, the only indigenous tribe in the state, isn’t even mentioned in the Committee report that the article is based on nor the article itself.    Neither is their ally, the Ani Tsalagi Oneselagi Northeastern Band, the Cherokee tribe formed here in the 1830’s, headed by Principal Chief Darius TwoBears Ross.

The article quotes the flawed NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs Committee report on Indian tribes in New Jersey:  

“It reflects lingering discrimination, ignorance of state history and culture.”

Interesting take, when you consider that our state history includes former Governors honoring the Sand Hill tribe as far back as the 1940’s when even the Smithsonian listed the Sand Hill as the only indigenous tribe left that still practiced their traditions and arts.  The new Committee that came up with those words actually does not acknowledge the Sand Hill at all.  The tribe was known and treated as such by NJ State Government UNTIL THE CREATION OF THE NJ COMMISSION that wrote the report that denies they exist.  

And

“whose descendants have lived here peacefully and productively for more than 350 years”.

 

The actual historical record – archeologically goes back 1500 years to at least the of bones discovered here that are linked by DNA to the current Chief of the Sand Hill tribe.  The tribe that the NJ Indian Commission will not admit is indigenous and appears nowhere in this article.

“Reports estimate approximately 20,000 New Jersey citizens belong to one of the three tribes that are indigenous to the state.  Those tribes include the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape of Cumberland and Salem Counties, the Powhatan Renape of Burlington County, and the Ramapough Lenape of Mahwah and Ringwood.”

The problem is, the Powhatan and Nanticoke only came to NJ in the 1970’s.  These two tribes are NOT indigenous to NJ.  John Norwood – a Tribal Councilman of the Nanticokes states:  

“We have never looked like the southwestern stereotype.  That we never lived in teepees in New Jersey…That Playing Indian by wearing our regalia and misappropriating our cultural and spiritual practices is insulting to many of us.”

 

Of course they wouldn’t have lived in teepees in NJ. The Nanticokes only moved here in the 1970’s. The 1970’s.  It is ironic that the tribe lamenting the misappropriation of their culture moved here in the 1970’s, took the name of Lenape and now appears to be preventing recognition of the Lenape tribe that was already here.  

The interesting thing is – the Ramapough, who had been known by the Smithsonian up till the 1970’s as the Jackson Whites, is closer to what the Commission considers “inter-tribal” people – those not in an official tribe.  They are a 501.c3 with a CEO – not a Chief.  They are a mix of Dutch, African, Lenape, Cherokee, AND Tuscarora.  While the Sand Hill are the Lenape – the very folks who were here for not just 350 years – but THOUSANDS of years, who met Henry Hudson in 1609 and then married the Cherokee who migrated here in 1711 after the Cherokee were displaced from the Southern states.

While it may appear heartening on the surface to see a story raising the issue of discrimination against the Native Americans in NJ, it is painfully ironic that this article, in a publication by lawyers, neglects to mention the most egregious case of discrimination against Native Americans in recent history, the alleged attempt to completely erase from NJ history any mention of the two oldest tribes left in NJ.  The Smithsonian in 1948 listed the Sand Hill tribe as the only indigenous tribe left in the state of NJ still practicing their customs, language and arts.  The Ani Tsalagi are descendents of the Cherokee that migrated here in the early 1700’s as well as those who came to NJ during the Trail of Tears and formed the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band in the 1830’s.  They are not mentioned in the article, while the three “groups” currently represented on the NJ Indian Commission, The Ramapough (not a tribe), Nanticokes (not indigenous), and Powhatan (also not indigenous) are mentioned as though all three are NJ indigenous tribes.

This appears to be an epic case of identity theft. In recent years, the Chief of the Nanticokes – who have attempted to build a casino in Alpine NJ, of all places – accidentally, publicly admitted his tribe only came to NJ only in the 1970’s.  The Nanticokes, in fact, came only at the invitation of Sam Beeler, internationally known and respected former Chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians – and the very man the Nanticokes appear now to deny even knowing.

The Powhatan tribe – which every 4th grader knows as Pocohontas’ tribe – is from Virginia.  But, Pocohontas was not a Jersey girl.  Again, in proof that no good deed goes unpunished, Sam Beeler was the one who extended an invitation to the Powhatans to set up a home here in NJ – in the 1970’s.  They too, now allegedly disavow even knowing the man.  To acknowledge him is to perhaps acknowledge that he is telling the truth and that they are NOT indigenous to NJ.  (Recently it is rumored that the Powhatans are allegedly under investigation by the IRS for disappearing Federal money that should have gone to the indigenous tribes.)

Now, the Ramapough are quite another story, altogether.  The Ramapough were known only as the Jackson Whites until the 1970’s, when Sam Beeler tried to help them also.  The Smithsonian in 1948 identified the “Jackson Whites” as a mestizo people, a group who are not a tribe, but a diverse collection of people (Dutch, African, Lenape, Cherokee, AND Tuscarora) who make a group by living in the same place and intermarrying.   In the 1970’s, Sam Beeler helped them set up a non-profit organization and gave them a new name.  This is when the name Ramapough came to be used to describe the group that had been known as the Jackson Whites even by the Smithsonian, up until the 1970’s.  

It appears that the NJ Indian Commission is not concerned about the actual history of the last two real Indian Tribes of NJ, but only the “history” of the 3 “groups” represented on the Commission – groups that are either not indigenous to NJ or not an actual tribe.  Autumn Wind Scott, the current Chair of the NJ Indian Commission, who claims Ramapough descent, is quoted extensively throughout the Bar Association’s article.  

When I spoke to representatives of the Sand Hill, they said to me “We hope the NJ Indian Commission keeps it up.  They are making our case”.  The Indian Commission appears to be giving actual proof of the pattern of alleged actions by the State of New Jersey designed to rob the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians and Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band of their history, heritage, artifacts, and sovereign rights.

How did this get so out of hand?  You have to go back at least 10 years.  That was when Chief Lone Bear Revey died.  Lone Bear for many decades had been the well known public face of the Native Americans in NJ and well known to Trenton as well as the force behind getting the Waterloo Village Lenape display up and running.  He was chief of the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians until shortly before his death in 1998 when he named Sam Beeler to succeed him as Chief and as head of the NJ Indian Office. Lone Bear was barely in the ground before Crazy Horse of the Powhatans pushed to create the NJ Indian Commission, even though Lone Bear’s NJ Indian Office had been serving that role for many, many years – and still is.  

In a recent move reminiscent of the battle over schoolbooks in Texas teaching creationism, the NJ Indian Commission appears to be promoting a version of NJ state history to be taught in our schools.  The newsletter with the article in question was found in a pile given out in a school.

“Autumn Wind Scott said that efforts are under way to expand the core curriculum standards in New Jersey to include lessons about the history of New Jersey’s indigenous people – a content area that she said is sorely lacking.”

 

The reason it is sorely lacking is because any version of NJ history that omits the Sand Hill while teaching that the Nanticokes and Powhatan are indigenous to NJ is not history, it is fiction. However, the curriculum Autumn Wind appears to be promoting wipes out the heritage, culture, arts and language of a population of Native American tribal members that still resides in NJ after thousands of years and has never left – the Lenape – as well as our Cherokee tribe whose family members suffered during the Trail of Tears.  Native Americans who, it appears, the Commission doesn’t deem fit to even mention, nor give a voice to.  

The Committee’s report also

“called out statements by uninformed or bigoted teachers who claim that there are no American Indian tribal groups in New Jersey.”

An ironic statement considering the Committee refuses to acknowledge the two OLDEST tribes in the state.

Not only is the re-education happening in the school arena.  The State Archives have also been rumored to be sanitized, and artifacts belonging to the NJ Sand Hill tribe have already been removed from museums.  In addition, pressure has been applied – Chief Holloway has been physically threatened, followed, his home broken into, and his brake lines cut.  It is alleged that attorneys who initially agreed to take on this case have been threatened with blacklisting for representing Chief Holloway’s tribe.  It appears the effort to erase Chief Holloway’s tribe from history extends to the internet as well.  Wikipedia has been edited to include only the “groups” on the Commission, and I and other bloggers have been threatened with lawsuits for simply blogging about this case.  Other bloggers have also been harassed for being sympathetic to Chief Holloway’s tribe, allegedly by members of the NJ Indian Commission. The folks who threatened lawsuits against me had members of the Commission copied on those emails.  I have even found online letters sent to historians around the state that attempt to discredit Chief Holloway’s side of the story.  It appears to be a concerted and ham-fisted effort to erase Chief Holloway’s tribe, deliberate and widespread and with a paper trail for these actions going back ten years.

Most recently, I was informed that the Federal Government notified an oil company interested in drilling off the NJ coastline who wanted to speak with Native American tribes, to speak with the only indigenous tribe left – The Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee.  However, it appears that someone in Trenton allegedly intervened and excluded Chief Holloway and his tribe from that meeting.  (Not surprisingly, a fee of 6 million of dollars was involved.)

According to the article:  

“It is believed that changes sought must begin with legislation that officially recognizes the three Native American tribes indigenous to New Jersey.  A bill is now pending in the New Jersey legislature that provides official state recognition of these tribes  ‘for the limited purpose of assisting these tribes in establishing eligibility for federal education, job training, and housing benefits and federal protection for the sale of artwork and of the right to engage in traditional religious practices and ceremonies.”

The bill mentioned sounds suspiciously like Senator Loretta Weinberg’s bill, which she wrote to give the Sand Hill and the Ani Tsalagi tribes representation on the Commission.  The new bill allegedly states boldly that the Ramapough, Nanticokes and Powhatans are indigenous tribes to NJ.  None of the tribes on the Commission had to prove their background before being appointed to the Commission. It is rumored that because of the recent Federal investigation into millions of dollars missing that were to go to NJ’s indigenous tribes, under scrutiny, the Powhatans and Nanticokes have finally admitted to the Federal government that they are not indigenous to NJ and have only been here since the 1970’s.  What the Commission could not do with the truth or evidence, they appear to be attempting with legislation.  The only problem is, when the three “tribes” on the Commission went to the BIA for Federal Recognition ALL THREE TRIBES were turned down because the Powhatans are from Virginia and the Nanticokes from Delaware, and the Ramapough Indians are a non-profit organization, not a tribe.  

It also appears that Judge Hayden, the Federal judge who has been allegedly stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, though no one involved in the case has been formally notified.  It would appear that the Federal Government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.

As the Federal government appears to play ostrich and while the NJ Indian Commission appears to be re-writing history, the NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad. And as the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes get bigger.  As members of the NJ Indian Commission continue what appears to be a crazy version of whack-a-mole to eliminate any mention of the two oldest tribes in the state from history as well as the internet (good luck with that one), AND our schools, the case has gone international.  The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama could go a long way toward resolving what is turning into an epic saga.  I have met these folks and have been trying to tell their story for 2 years now.  They are patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 years ago, patience is wearing thin.

Many Americans today regret the horrific way the First Americans were treated throughout our history.  Here is our Federal government’s chance to make a difference.  With the very last Native American tribe left who never subjugated themselves to the Federal Government or signed away their land.  

Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

( – promoted by navajo)

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.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

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.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sand Hill Indians now Claim Manhattan

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.

The NJ Sand Hill Band of Lenape & Cherokee Indians (the Sand Hill) headed by Chief Yonaguska Holloway has appealed to the UN for assistance.  The UN is now representing the tribe and the case may actually move to The Hague if the tribe does not get justice through the American courts and through negotiations with the United States.

Judge Hayden, the Federal Judge who allegedly has been stalling this trial since last year, has taken early retirement, although no one involved in the case has been formally notified.

It’s rumored that the Federal government has finally stepped in, but they have not reached out directly to Chief Holloway.  As the Federal government appears to drag their feet and avoid the inevitable negotiating table, the stakes are getting bigger.

The Sand Hill are using this time to gather the evidence they need to make their case that much more ironclad.  Just over the past few months they have gathered more evidence of their claim not only to NJ but Manhattan, Delaware, and Eastern PA.

What began as a lawsuit in one state is morphing into the largest land claim ever made by Native Americans and is precedent-setting for the rest of the Indian Nations.  The problem confronting the Federal Government appears to be their inability to figure out how to even begin approaching this matter with the Sand Hills.

The ridiculousness of the situation is that a simple sit-down with President Obama over iced tea and pizza could go a long way towards resolving what is turning into a territorial crisis for the United States.

The Sand Hill are a patient and reasonable people, but everyone has a limit.  Justice delayed is justice denied, and as their rights have been trampled ever since they reached out a hand to Henry Hudson 400 year ago, their patience is now wearing thin.

It appears that the sheer magnitude of the situation is preventing any progress at all.  But like any other overwhelming problem, resolutions often begin with a simple conversation.

So far, only one NJ Congressman’s office (Congressman Steve Rothman) has had the foresight to contact representatives of the Sand Hill after Chief Holloway’s speech at the United Nations.  On three separate occasions thereafter, the Sand Hill Government Liaison contacted Rothman’s office.  The last time was to notify the Congressman of the latest filing and to request a meeting with him.   As of this writing there has been no acknowledgement of receiving either the motion or the request.

It might behoove the Congressman, as this is an election year, to get ahead of the situation, and score a political coup by meeting with Chief Holloway as a first step towards getting the Federal Government to the table without pressure from the United Nations.

I am seriously advising my elected officials to meet with Chief Holloway while his hand is still outstretched.  I have interviewed Chief Holloway about this many times over the past two years.  He has always been and still is willing to discuss this matter with the appropriate Federal officials in order to reach a reasonable conclusion.

Posted in Uncategorized

Sand Hill Case May Go to World Court

( – promoted by navajo)

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.

http://www.nativeamericannetro…

In that speech, it was revealed that this is the first time that a state 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.  

This story, which we have been trying to tell for the past 2 years is finally big enough to get the press it deserved all along. This case could go all the way to the World Court if the Federal Government continues to deny justice by delaying it indefinitely.  According to Chairman Holloway, “Now the case in in the hands of the world. We will see what the world thinks.”

For more on the situation: http://americanaffairs.suite10…

Chief Yonaguska Holloway Addresses the UN

( – promoted by navajo)

On April 20, 2010, Chief Yonaguska Holloway of the New Jersey Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians was invited to address the Assembly at the UN. I have been blogging about his case for the past two years. In February of 2009, Chief Holloway filed a lawsuit on behalf of his tribe because the State of New Jersey is trying to write them out of existence along with the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band (the oldest Cherokee tribe in NJ) and the federal judge appears to be stalling the case on purpose. The following is the entire text of Chief Holloway’s speech:

 

“Over sixty years ago, the General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Afterward, the Country members were called upon to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read, and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories .” It is this very reason I stand here before you today.  The violation of basic human rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

   Over six hundred years ago, my ancestors lived and thrived along the shores of what is now the eastern seaboard of the United States of America.  The New Jersey Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians are the direct lineal descendants of the original inhabitants of the land now known as the State of New Jersey.  Human remains, dating back almost two thousand years have been uncovered in this area.  DNA testing of these remains has linked them to me personally.

   We are a sovereign people, as were our ancestors at the time of the arrival of the first Europeans.  First the Dutch, then later, the British.  This is testified to by the fact that the early Europeans entered into and signed treaties with us, sovereign to sovereign.  These treaties kept certain rights unto us, including land, water, hunting, fishing and coastal areas being amongst them. The United  States, at the end of the Revolutionary War, as part of the agreement to end hostilities, agreed to honor and maintain these international treaties by accepting to act as a trustee.  They even went as far as to enact federal legislation to ensure that our rights would be protected.

   However, by 1802, the newly formed “State” of New Jersey had completely disregarded these treaties and federal laws, and most importantly, our basic human rights to even exist.  Over the next few decades, in an unsolicited invasion, our ancestral lands were seized, our people forcibly removed or slaughtered.  Those that survived were forced into hiding, in and around the lands that for millennium sustained us.  Not only were federal laws completely ignored by New Jersey, but they had no legal right to even act as a state, as they had not ratified their own state constitution until 1842.  All the while, the United States Federal Government turned a blind eye toward us, refusing to exercise their trust relationship with us that they had decades before accepted.

   As the only remaining “First Contact” Indian people on the eastern seaboard to legally address this gross misconduct, the stakes are very high.  We claim rights to the land and vast natural resources along the entire coastline of New Jersey, inland to the Delaware River.  Our ancestral home for thousands of years include, what is now called Port Elizabeth, Newark, Atlantic City, and Trenton. Just to name a few.  Also of importance is the fact that under these seized lands lies the largest fresh water quifer along the north east seaboard.  Other “First Contact” tribes have settled their claims after decades of legal battles, but none have had the tremendous impact of ours.

   After years of failed attempts to reconcile with the State of New Jersey, we were forced to take the state to Federal Court to prove our claim.  Unfortunately, because of the magnitude and the implications of the case, it has been purposely stalled and ignored in an attempt to defraud us and dispense with our international treaty rights.  We have even, in the course of the case, brought forth evidence that the State of New Jersey itself, in court, legal opinion and internal documents, admits that our lands have been seized illegally.  Various major archaeologists, universities, historians and other specialists are in agreement as to our claim and rights.

   It is not our intention to interfere with the continuity of the United State, or its national security.  However, it is our intention to take every avenue available to us up to and including international intervention, and the World Court if necessary.

   It is the very existence of our people that it at stake. And we have no intention of going into the night quietly!  I stand here to ask the international community for its support, assistance in whatever manner available to assist us in having our International rights respected and restored.

   It is our hope & prayer that this astute body and the global community will hear our long suppressed cry, and come to our aid!”

After Chief Yonaguska Holloway delivered his speech and the lunch break, U. S. Ambassador Susan Rice, in a moving speech, reiterated some of the points Chief Holloway had made earlier that day when he addressed the audience of Indigenous Leaders.

The ambassador announced that the U.S. is reconsidering its position on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights immediately on the heels of New Zealand’s reversal of its previous denial of the same rights. Australia,  Canada, New Zealand and the United States refused to sign the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Australia and New Zealand reversed their decisions.  The US and Canada are the only two countries left that have not reversed their position to guarantee the rights of indigenous peoples in their countries.  

Ambassador Rice’s statement was met by a standing ovation by Chief Holloway’s Entourage, various Chiefs of the Iroquois Nations and other Indigenous Nations who were in attendance during the General Assembly of the United Nations.

For more information on the UN Forum on Indigenous People:

http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/u…

The Text of the Declaration:

http://iwgia.synkron.com/graph…

The timeline of the Sand Hill case against the State of New Jersey and documents involved in the case:

http://secretnj.net/2852/4501….

Here is the text of Ambassador Rice’s speech at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 20, 2010

   

“In his Presidential Proclamation last fall honoring Native American Heritage Month, President Obama recognized that the “indigenous peoples of North America–the First American–have woven rich and diverse threads into the tapestry of our Nation’s heritage.” What is true in the Americas is true around the world. There is no true history that does not take into account the story of indigenous populations–their proud traditions, their rich cultures, and their contributions to our shared heritage and identity.

   But in the United States and many other parts of the world, indigenous communities continue to feel the heavy hand of history. Our first nations face serious challenges: disproportionate and dire poverty, unemployment, environmental degradation, health care gaps, violent crime, and bitter discrimination. Far more must be done–at home and abroad–to tackle these challenges, expand the circle of opportunity, and work with our Native communities to ensure they enjoy the security and dignity that all citizens deserve.

   President Obama is deeply committed to strengthening and building on government-to-government relationships among the United States and our tribal governments. Our Administration has moved quickly to launch programs to improve the lives of Native Americans. Shortly after his inauguration, the President appointed my colleague, Kimberly Teehee, as his Native American policy advisor and began extensive outreach to tribal leaders. In November of last year, President Obama invited representatives from each of our 564 Indian tribes in the United States to attend a White House Tribal Nations Conference. Nearly 500 tribal leaders participated–the most widely attended White House tribal meeting with the President, Cabinet Secretaries, senior officials, and members of Congress in U.S. history. The President signed a Memorandum on November 5, 2009, directing every federal agency to develop plans to implement fully the Executive Order on “Consultation and Coordination with Tribal Governments,” which mandates that all agencies have an accountable process for meaningful and timely input by tribal officials in the development of regulatory policies that have tribal implications. The level of tribal consultation is now at historic levels–marking a new era in the United States’ relationship with tribal governments.

   Last month, President Obama signed a historic reform of the U.S. health care system that includes important provisions to reduce the gaping health care disparities that Native Americans still face. Signing and implementing this landmark law constitutes a major step toward fulfilling our national responsibility to provide high-quality, affordable health care to all citizens, including American Indians and Alaska Natives.  

   The U.S. government has also made improving public safety in tribal communities a high priority. The Department of Justice supports an initiative to hire more Indian country Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute cases of violent crime on Native lands. This initiative will also provide additional federal agents to support law-enforcement efforts in tribal communities. Combating crimes involving violence against women and children on Native lands is a particularly high priority for the U.S. government.

   Last year, in the face of a global economic crisis, President Obama took swift action to spur economic activity and create new jobs. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act specifically allocates more than $3 billion to assist tribal communities. These funds are being used to renovate schools on reservations across the country, to create new jobs in tribal economies, improve housing, support health care facilities, and bolster policing services. The President’s Fiscal Year 2011 budget request also proposes a 5 percent increase in federal funding for Native American programs, to a total of $18.5 billion.

   The United States also supports programs that help indigenous communities around the world. We are especially committed to promoting corporate social responsibility, particularly with extractive industries whose operations can so dramatically affect the living conditions of indigenous peoples. The United States has therefore engaged in a multi-stakeholder initiative to encourage firms to operate safely within a framework that fully respects the rights of surrounding communities. We support the Initiative for Conservation in the Andean Amazon, a regional program designed to strengthen indigenous efforts to protect and conserve the Amazon Rainforest. In Peru, our common efforts focus on the conservation of the Manu National Parks, together with the Yanesha and Ashaninka peoples, by providing training in sustainable resource management and expanding environmental conservation capacity. The United States also participates fully and actively in the Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum of the eight Arctic states where Arctic indigenous peoples — represented by Permanent Participant organizations — have a co-equal role.

   Consistent with President Obama’s call for a new era of U.S. engagement with the world, the United States applauds the Permanent Forum’s efforts to raise awareness of issues affecting the world’s indigenous peoples and to generate ideas for substantially improving their livelihoods and communities.

   Thus today, I am pleased to announce that the United States has decided to review our position regarding the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We recognize that, for many around the world, this Declaration provides a framework for addressing indigenous issues. During President Obama’s first year in office, tribal leaders encouraged the United States to reexamine its position on the Declaration–an important recommendation that directly complements our commitment to work together with the international community on the many challenges that indigenous peoples face. We will be conducting a formal review of the Declaration and the U.S. position on it. And as we move ahead, we look forward to consulting extensively with our valued and experienced colleagues in the federally recognized Indian tribes and interested nongovernmental organizations.

   While many steps have been taken in the Administration’s first year, we are not satisfied. We seek to continue to work together with our partners in indigenous communities to provide security, prosperity, equality, and opportunity for all. There is no American history without Native American history. There can be no just and decent future for our nation that does not directly tackle the legacy of bitter discrimination and sorrow that the first Americans still live with. And America cannot be fully whole until its first inhabitants enjoy all the blessings of liberty, prosperity, and dignity. Let there be no doubt of our commitment. And we stand ready to be judged by the results. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”

Chief Ron Yonaguska Holloway on Native America Calling today at 1pm

( – promoted by navajo)

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 from 1pm to 2 pm today on Native America Calling. The story will also be carried on NPR.  At that event in November 2009, 400 years after Henry Hudson floated up the river that now bears his name, Ron Holloway accepted the apology in lower Manhattan on behalf of all four Lenape tribes left:

The Delaware

The Munsee

the Shinnecock

and the Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee – the only Lenape tribe left in NJ.  

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. Acting Principle Chief Ron Yonaguska Holloway is directly descended from the oldest indigenous Lenape tribe still left in NJ.

The audio stream of today’s interview:

http://www.nativeamericacallin…

My blog of the Healing Turtle Island event:

http://www.nativeamericannetro…

Video of Healing Turtle Island:

http://intersectionsinternatio…

Epic Irony

( – promoted by navajo)

Cross posted from Daily Kos and Blue Jersey

Diary updated by navajo to include video

In lower Manhattan, on what will now be known as Native American Heritage Day, November 27, 2009, in front of the Museum of the American Indian, a historical event centuries in the making occurred as the Collegiate Church, formerly known as the Dutch Reformed Church, apologized to three of the four Lenape tribes left – NJ The Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, the Oklahoma Delaware, and the Lenape of Ontario, Canada, the Munsee.



The irony is that the very same NJ 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 do 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.

For a Timeline of the Sand Hill saga, here is my Blue Jersey diary:

http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

Here are the primary source documents that I have posted regarding this story:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/1…

The attempts to punish tribal members for speaking out about their mistreatment:

http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

A comprehensive diary with links to yet more diaries on this:

http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

An video Interview with Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway:

http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

What you all can do:  There are bills stalled in Committee in the NJ legislature right now that would rectify this travesty of justice by giving seats on the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs to Reps of the Sand Hill Band and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band.  CALL and WRITE to your representatives and tell them to support Senator Loretta Weinberg’s bill.