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  • Maria Santiago-Valentín, NJCCJ

Open Letter to the Mayor of Mahwah, Hon. William Laforet

June 29, 2017

Open Letter to the Mayor of Mahwah, William Laforet:

Re: Split Rock Sweetwater Prayer Camp

The town is requiring permits and asking for fees on a land that belongs to the tribe. The code violations issued are out of line and unjustified. The camp activities have caused no harm to the private community. The New Jersey Coalition for Climate Justice, a group of veterans and new environmental activists, supports the efforts of the Split Rock Sweetwater in halting the construction of the Pilgrim Pipeline. We demand the municipality honor the land rights the tribe has over 14 acres for millennia.

The residents’ reaction to the activities in the camp reflect a lack of understanding of property rights of the Native Americans, intolerance, and racial discrimination. Principles outweigh ordinances. In this case the decisions of our institutions have lost sight of the principles of justice.

The New Jersey Coalition for Climate Justice is asking the municipality of Mahwah to honor the property rights of the tribe land, to respect, and to not interfere with the religious activities that take place there, regardless of the Attorney General decision’s in 2012 to not recognize the tribe for fear of gaming. On that note, let us be clear that legal decisions are often rendered by the caprices of controversial times, money, political reaction, and lack of foresight. These kinds of decisions should be treated with suspicion and in all cases rejected in the name of justice.

Once more so that there is no confusion, we of the NJCCJ support the rights of the tribal peoples, and reject any attempts, legal or otherwise, to restrict tribal people from using their land as they see fit.

Maria Santiago-Valentin, NJCCJ.

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