The Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp is located near the banks of the Ramapo River in Mahwah, New Jersey. Photo: Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp
Environment | Law | National

Ramapough Lunaape Nation ordered to take down anti-pipeline camp

The Ramapough Lunaape Nation is facing a court battle over a pipeline resistance camp in New Jersey.

Since October, the Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp has served as a gathering space for opponents of the proposed Pilgrim oil pipelines. The site consists of tepees, tents and other structures, according to news reports.

But the town of Mahwah has ordered everything to be removed. A lawsuit was filed in state court last week, alleging violations of local zoning laws, according to news reports.

"This has been Ramapough land since before Columbus," a tribal citizen who goes by the name Owl told WPIX.

The tribe owns the 14-acre property in question but is not afforded any authority over the land. The state has even denied that it recognizes any Indian nations within its borders.

The parcel happens to be located near a neighborhood with multi-million dollar homes, according to news reports. Residents apparently have complained about the prayer camp.

"They're denying people the right to assembly," Chief Dwaine Perry told The Bergen Record. " We've been on this land for a quarter century and now it's an issue?"

According to a camp press release, the head of the neighborhood association at the Polo Club is an energy consultant who has tried to discourage people from coming to the site. The original developer of the community gifted the land to the tribe, CBSNewYork reported.

The camp's name comes from Ramapough, which means "sweet water" in the Munsee language, according to the tribe.

Read More on the Story:
Town orders Native American tribe to take down teepees (WPIX 5/15)
Mahwah to Ramapoughs: Remove tepees immediately (The Bergen Record 5/12)
NJ town demands tribe take down ‘unauthorized’ teepees (The New York Post 5/12)
Town taking tribe to court over teepees built near million-dollar homes (NJ.Com 5/11)
‘We’re Gonna Defend Ourselves,’ Ramapough Nation, Mahwah Officials Spar Over Prayer Ground (CBSNewYork 5/11)

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Ramapough Lunaape Nation denied permit for anti-pipeline camp (April 20, 2017)