Ramapough tribal members
singing at the drum. Photo courtesy American
The Ramapough Lunaape
Nation of New Jersey believes Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump derailed the tribe's chances for federal recognition.
The tribe was one of the first to seek recognition through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, having filed a letter of intent in 1978. During the 1990s, the effort attracted the attention of Trump, who questioned whether the Ramapough were legitimate.
"Well, I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations,” Trump said on the Don Imus radio show in June 1993, The Bergen Record reported.
Six months later, the BIA issued a proposed finding against the tribe. Although there is no evidence Trump influenced the decision, Ramapough leaders insist he turned the public and members of Congress against recognition -- he had testified on Capitol Hill in October of that year, making incendiary comments that become the source of scorn in Indian Country.
“That man is never far from our minds.” Sub-Chief Vincent Mann told The Record. “There are a lot of Ramapoughs who feel anger towards him. He personally affected their lives and the lives of generations to come.”
The tribe filed a lawsuit against the BIA in hopes of overturning the decision but that was unsuccessful. Leaders are still looking for ways to confirm their status.
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