Column: Telling the truth about the Ramapough Lunaape Nation

Tribal flags flying at the Ramapough Lunaape Nation in New Jersey. Photo from Facebook

Sharing the history of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation in New Jersey:
On a low-lying bank of the Ramapo River are the tribal ceremonial grounds and long house of Ramapough Lunaape people.

The long house is constructed of tall, weathered logs, carved with freshly painted masks that symbolize the spirituality of man and its connection to the earth. Closer to the river is the tribe's altar; a bow-shaped wall of stones that grows each time a person adds another rock.

Dwaine Perry, the elected chief of the Ramapough Lunaape, explains that each of the thousands of rocks represents a prayer. "You find a stone, and you come here and you say what it is you wish for, and put the stone down," he explained. The west side of the altar is for the spiritual, the east for the physical. We welcome anybody to come here. We don't tell you how to pray; but we welcome you to feel the positive energy here."

Perry, a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran, took his rock and placed it near the center, and asked for "the health and well-being of my people."

This is no simple matter. For the 5,000 or so Ramapoughs who live in Ringwood, on or around Stag Hill in Mahwah and just over the state line in Hillburn, N.Y., injury and insult continues to mount.

The tribe remains the subject of mystery and mythology, most not good.

"We haven't given up trying to set the record straight, but let me tell you, brother, it get's pretty damn hard," said Perry, who only agreed to this interview after a year of contact. "We've actually had people stop by our community center and ask, 'So, where are those people?' " he said.

Get the Story:
Mark Di Ionno: Time to tell the truth about the Ramapough people (The Newark Star Ledger 4/19)

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