New Jersey Native American tribe taking stand against tepee take-down order

Kemberly Richardson Image
Monday, December 11, 2017
Native American tribe taking stand against Mahwah's order to take down tepees
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Kemberly Richardson has more on the Native American tribe taking a stand against Mahwah to take down their tepees.

MAHWAH, New Jersey (WABC) -- It has been a yearlong battle that they say is far from over despite a judge's ruling last month. On Sunday, members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation gathered on sacred ground - a show of support as the tribe faces an uncertain future.

"The town and neighbors don't want us here," said Owl, a member of the tribe.

The roughly 11-acre site off Halifax Road in Mahwah has been a main gathering point for the tribe for decades. However, when the traditional tepees started going up, that caught the attention of town officials and those who live in sprawling housing developments next door.

In November, a superior court judge ruled the group violated local zoning laws that members did not get required permits to put up the tepees and other structures on the land.

The tribe argued they had a constitutional right to have the tepees which are used in religious ceremonies.

"This is their prayer...they're trying to protect their rights," says supported Ted Kruckel.

As for people who live in the area, they have gone on record complaining about the noise from overnight camping. They also have concerns about sanitation and the structures.

The trial in October did not end in their favor but they have appealed the judge's decision.