Trial postponed in dispute over Ramapough prayer site

BY Raven Santana, Correspondent |

A trial over a dispute between the Rampough Lenape Nation and an affluent residential community over access to a sacred prayer site has been postponed.

The trial was set to begin Monday in Bergen County Superior Court, but was put on hold because there was no judge available to take the case.

The lawsuit filed by Mahwah Township and the Ramapo Hunt and Polo Club seeks to limit the number of Ramapough allowed to use the land located next to the neighborhood, to five at a time. The suit also requests the removal of the tribe’s prayer circle and sacred stone altar.

The tribe says they acquired the land in 1995 by private deed and argue it’s their first amendment right to hold religious ceremonies on the property.
Members of the Ramapough Lenape Nation hosted a rally outside the court house Monday.

“Anyone who is listening to this. If I went to their synagogue or chapel and asked their priest ‘listen, why don’t you guys move out, I’d like a better view than your face,’” said Ramapough Lenape Chief Dwaine Perry.

The current legal proceedings are the latest in a series of disputes involving the tribe and the township over the past several years.

Both Mahwah’s mayor, John Roth, and a lawyer representing the Polo Club, Arthur Chagaris, declined to comment on the case.

The trial is expected to begin later this week.