The Ramapough Mountain Indians
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Also known as Ramapo Mountain Indians or the Ramapough Lenape Nation, are a group of approximately 5,000 people living around the Ramapo Mountains of northern New Jersey and southern New York. Their tribal office is located on Stag Hill Road on Houvenkopf Mountain in Mahwah, New Jersey. Since January 2007, the Chief of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation has been Dwaine Perry. The Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation are described as the descendants of the Lenape (including the Hackensack, Tappan, Rumachenanck/Haverstroo, and Munsee/Minisink people with varying degrees of Tuscarora, African, Dutch, and other Caucasian ancestry. The Ramapough have common ancestry with the Stockbridge-Munsee and the Brothertown Indians of Wisconsin.
The Ramapough ancestral language was Munsee, but, following contact with European colonists, the community was also known to have spoken English and Jersey Dutch in the past. Today they speak English. The Ramapough are engaged in an effort to revitalize the Munsee language among their members. The Ramapough Lenape Nation, The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation and The Powhatan Renape Nation have a longstanding history of working together to care for its members in the State of New Jersey. As of May 2011, The three Tribes formed the Confederacy of State Recognized Tribes of New Jersey.
The Ramapough have been identified by the state of New Jersey by Resolution 3031 as an Indian tribe since 1980. They were also recognized by the State of New York by Resolution 86 in 1979. “The Ramapough have been repeatedly and consistently identified as an Indian entity since 1900 by historians, anthropologists, various other scholars, journalists, and federal and state reports.” In August 2006, Governor Jon Corzine formed the New Jersey Committee on Native American Community Affairs to investigate issues of civil rights, education, employment, fair housing, environmental protection, health care, infrastructure and equal opportunity confronting New Jersey’s three indigenous Native American tribes and other New Jersey residents of Native American descent. The Committee’s report was delivered on December 17, 2007 and cited “lingering discrimination, ignorance of state history and culture, and cynicism in the treatment of Indian people”
The New Jersey citation read: “Be it resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey (the Senate concurring): 1. That the Ramapough Mountain People of the Ramapough Mountains of Bergen and Passaic counties, descendants of the Iroquois and Algonquin nations, are hereby designated by the State of New Jersey as the Ramapough Indians.” New York has a bill pending to recognize the Ramapough people as Native Americans