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

Ramapough Lunaape Nation defends right to host prayer camp in New Jersey

The Ramapough Lunaape Nation is defending its prayer camp in an ongoing trial in New Jersey.

The Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp was erected last fall to show solidarity with the #NoDAPL movement. It also serves as a gathering place for opponents of the proposed Pilgrim oil pipelines.

But the town of Mahwah claims the tribe has violated local laws by hosting tepees, tents and other structures on the 14-acre site. The teepees have since been removed but a trial will determine whether the tribe can use the land for religious purposes.

“It’s always been a space of prayer and gathering, fishing and hunting for our people,” Chief Dwaine Perry said in testimony on Tuesday, The Bergen Record reported.

The trial began on October 3, according to news reports. It resumed on Tuesday, when Perry testified, and will continue next Tuesday.

The tribe owns the site but is not afforded any authority over the land. The state has denied the existence of any Indian nations within its borders despite having done so in the past.

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

Read More on the Story:
Ramapough tepee trial begins: When does tepee become zoning violation? (The Bergen Record October 3, 2017)
Ramapoughs Trial Continues As Tribe Claims Town Is Trying To Outlaw Prayer At Tepee Site (Mahwah Patch October 9, 2017)
Developer says Ramapoughs have long history of religious ceremonies in Mahwah (The Bergen Record October 10, 2017)
Garden State of Mind by Christopher Maag: Outside Ramapough trial, man runs circles in protest (The Bergen Record October 11, 2017)

Related Stories:
Ramapough Lunaape Nation wins reversal of ruling on prayer camp (June 20, 2017)
Ramapough Lunaape Nation ordered to take down anti-pipeline camp (May 16, 2017)
Ramapough Lunaape Nation denied permit for anti-pipeline camp (April 20, 2017)