Ramapough Lenape Tribe concerned about Mahwah pipeline plan

A New Jersey Native American tribe says that it is ready to fight against a plan that could put a pipeline through its ancestral lands in Bergen County.

Ramapough Lenape Chief Dwaine Perry says that the pipeline, planned to be built by Pilgrim Holdings, will impact on the prayer camp and also possibly endanger the tribe's water.

"Water is life. Actually in our cosmology water is the life of the earth and the blood of our grandmother," Perry says.

Mahwah Mayor William Laforet is also involved in the fight.

"It is our sole-source aquifer. Both the chief and myself and the communities involved are very, very concerned," he says.

Other communities in the area are also concerned about the pipeline. In late 2014 dozens of Chatham residents spoke out against the same pipeline possibly running near their homes. The pipeline could run through five New Jersey counties.

"If there was an incident to happen with that pipeline not just this year, but 50 years from now, our pristine drinking water is at risk," Mayor Laforet says.

The Ramapough say that their situation is similar to the Sioux Nation in North Dakota who are also fighting a pipeline. The Sioux are federally recognized, but the Ramapough are not. The tribe does receive recognition from New Jersey. 

Construction has already begun on the pipeline in North Dakota, while Pilgrim's pipeline is still in the planning stages.

The Ramapough have received summonses for putting up structures in protest on the land. The mayor and chief say that they will fight the summonses.

News 12 New Jersey has interviewed Pilgrim Holdings in the past. The company has said its pipeline would be the safest mode of transport for oil. The company website details applications for permits in New York, but not New Jersey.

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