Save Rankokus Reservation
new jersey state government & DEP
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This is a petition to urge the New Jersey Government and The Department of Environmental Protection Agency (DEP) to cease the action of taking the Land (known as the Rankokus Reservation) located at 730 Rancocas RD. Westampton, NJ 08060, from the Native American Indian Tribe, the Powhatan Renape Nation. The Powhatan-Renape Nations office, museum and buffalo are located on 280 + acres of land owned by the State of New Jersey. The Powhatan-Renape people (Powhatan) have been here for 25 years and are now being threatened with reduction of protected land to 5 acres or be removed by the DEP officials completely.
The area is better known to Powhatans and many New Jersey natives as the Rankokus Reservation. We have been a New Jersey State attraction and the forerunner in Native American Awareness since 1974. The Powhatan people accepted the offered Rancocas State Park (now known as the Rankokus Reservation) as a place to call their home back in 1985 by Governor Kane to Chief Roy Crazy Horse. Before the Powhatan people took over the park it was considered a dead park and a troubled area by forestry and park officials. After making some badly needed upgrades, repairs and grounds rejuvenation and provisions for their people, Chief Crazy Horse and other tribal members began holding Native American Indian ceremonies and festivals, with record breaking attendance, which continue to this day.
Chief Crazy Horse passed away in 2006 leaving a legacy of undeniable commitment and work ethic. Since his death, the Powhatan people have come under fire by DEP officials for several reasons but this is the first substantial threat that could possibly remove the Powhatan people from their presence at Rankokus Reservation as we have passed our lease renewal period. Over recent years and through these tough economic times, the current Tribal Council is working hard to restructure and renew its operations and have been told by DEP officials that they would have the time to do so. The DEP has also verbally stated that they would renew the 280 acre Lease we currently hold but has since rescinded their promise and offer a 5 acre lease proposal instead. It is our understanding that the DEP officials, Forestry Official Marci Green (lease writer), Tom Keck Forestry (Forestry Superintendent), and now retired Chris Bethman (Forestry Manager and Supervisor) have proposed this reduction in our land lease. It is absurd! This would leave just about the footprint of the Powhatan mock traditional village to the Indian educational museum and taking the sacred mound, buffalo from the Native people. The office buildings which would be removed as well, are needed not just for business, but they are also a representation of our Native American heritage, religion, traditional practices, and their cultural way of life. This will truly be a tragedy and a blemish on New Jersey Government.
Over the last 25 years the Reservation has not been serviced by the DEP or Forestry as the Powhatan People have taken care of the grounds and any problems that would arise. For 25 years the Powhatans have developed their Museum, Traditional Village, an Office for social services and other business related to assisting Native Americans in New Jersey. The Reservation currently has one Buffalo; as the other 2 were destroyed during DEP required Testing; on the property and a secret mound for prayer and religious practices. They still hold festivals on the grounds which are open to the public and also provide the state of New Jersey a tourist attraction focusing on Native American Indian Culture and traditions.
It has been said by many visitors and locals that the Native American aspect of the park is what makes the Rancocus State Park a.k.a. Rankokus Reservation and is so special to everyone. Its the reason why they come to the park and visit. It would be a shame for the DEP to disturb such a beautiful place and damage the serenity that exist been the Powhatan People and their land.
Since there is still no agreement, the Powhatan-Renape Nation is ready to put up a fight (peacefully) for the land they have cultivated and protected for the last 25 years, without government interference. We implore all state and local officials who are handling this matter to keep their promise to continue our 280 acre land lease and allow the Native American people, the Powhatan Renape, to remain in control of the land and continue to be its care takers.
Show your support for Native American Rights and help save the Powhatan people from being forced from their home. Thank you for your support on behalf of the Powhatan Nation.
Council Member of the Powhatan Nation