Allyship with Lenape Tribal Nations

Examination of allyship in terms of relationship with Native Nations?


Lenape Tribe of DE (c) 2017 S. Boone Murphy ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

According to Anne Bishop, “Allies are people who recognize the unearned privilege they receive from [their] society’s patterns of injustice and take responsibility for changing these patterns.” Using Bishop’s framework, one might self-ascribe to having an intra-societal type of cultural relationship – one within a given society.

On the other hand, allyship between a sovereign Native Nation and a non-native person is considered to be inter-societal – between given societies. An Indigenous sovereign Native Nation, that desires relationship with a non-native person, will initiate an invitation from the voice of leadership. Should a non-native person accept, the Native nation may ascribe the distinction of allyship. Inter-societal non-native allies carry subsequent non-native rights and responsibilities toward maintaining this unique “allyship.” The voices of counsel, below, call attention to potential duties, highlighting humility, community, integrity and love.

Allies cannot be self-defined. They must be claimed by the people they seek to ally with.

~Unsettling Minnesota

Native Nations Allyship: Non-Indigenous Rights & Responsibilities

Rev. J.R. Norwood, Ph. D. (Nanticoke-Lenape) – Allyship…

  • Always wait for an invitation to participate in anything;
  • know that the tribal community has total authority over its own identity, culture, traditions, policies, practices, ceremonies, and beliefs;
  • when a tribal person avoids eye contact, becomes silent, or turns away (even slightly) when you are talking, it may be an indication that they are politely trying to end the conversation or that you have overstepped;
  • traditional tribal values are adhered to at varying intensities from individual to individual;
  • a tribal chief is a head of state. “Outsiders” should be mindful that even though they may know the tribal leaders, it does not mean they are entitled to the same type of interaction with them as the tribal people may have.

Nora Thompson Dean (Lenape) – Allyship…

  • DO NOT go to work among the Native Americans with the idea that you are doing them a favor. It will show through in your attitude;
  • DO NOT refuse to go into a house if you have been invited to come in;
  • It is an insult to refuse food among my people (unless you are allergic to it;)
  • DO NOT interrupt when someone is answering your question;
  • DO NOT refuse to attend any ceremonies if you are invited. If you have reasons why you cannot go, tell them;
  • DO NOT take photos or make recordings without permission.

Cara Lee Blume, Ph. D. (anthropologist/ archeologist; non-native ally) – Allyship…

  • Paddle your own canoe, always remember you are NOT Native;
  • be humble;
  • be quiet.;
  • be discreet;
  • be polite, always remember that you are an outsider;
  • be respectful of the culture;
  • be patient – always remember that your priorities may not be those of the community;
  • be grateful – never presume that you deserve [acceptance.]

Lynn Gehl Ph. D. (Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe) Ally Bill of Responsibilities

  • Accept the responsibility of learning and reading more about their role as effective allies;
  • do not take up the space and resources, physical and financial, of the oppressed group;
  • reflect on and embrace their ignorance of the group’s oppression and always hold this ignorance in the forefront of their minds;
  • are fully grounded in their own ancestral history and culture. Effective allies must sit in this knowledge with confidence and pride; otherwise the “wannabe syndrome” could merely undermine the Indigenous people’s efforts;
  • do not act out of guilt, but rather out of a genuine interest in challenging the larger oppressive power structures.

Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign How to be an Ally to Indigenous Peoples

  • Remember that all beings (animals and plants) are your relatives not your resources;
  • read Native Authors; support Native craftspeople, businesses and events;
  • learn about the people indigenous to wherever you are;
  • read and promote the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
  • don’t co-opt Native cultures or ceremonies;
  • live with gratitude and lightly on the earth;
  • slow down and listen more than you talk;
  • reach out to you Indigenous neighbors;
  • learn about and reject the “Doctrine of Discovery;”
  • question and resist stereotypes including team names and mascots;
  • respect and support Indigenous sovereignty.

State Recognition Resolved: From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety

AG Gurbir S. Grewal Announces Settlement of Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Lawsuits

View the Settlement 

NJ Acknowledges Historic Recognition of Powhatan Renape, Ramapough Lenape Nations

Public Statement of Gratitude

By the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation

Upon Resolution of its Long-Standing Civil Rights Litigation

Against the Attorney General of New Jersey

November 15, 2018

Dear Tribal Members:

I write with joyous news.

As you well know, the state of New Jersey officially recognized the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation as an American Indian tribe thirty-six years ago, in 1982. State recognition is important to tribes because it affirms that our people and culture are both part of the story of humanity’s shared past and that we are present and valued in the modern world. State recognition also provides opportunities for tribes to advance our communities’ wellbeing through access to essential federal grants for health, education, and workforce development, and by certifying our traditional arts and crafts as Indian-made.

In 2012, members of former New Jersey Governor’s Chris Christie’s administration acted to undermine our state recognition, causing our Tribe significant harm. State officials acted based on racial stereotypes about Indian tribes and gambling. Our Tribe is one of many that prohibits gambling as a source of our livelihood. We had no choice but to sue the state in federal and state courts alleging violations of the Tribe’s rights under the United States and New Jersey Constitutions.

We are pleased that after six years of preparing for and conducting litigation against his office the new Attorney General of New Jersey has settled our legal claims. He has reaffirmed, in no uncertain terms, that New Jersey has indeed formally recognized the Tribe since 1982 and that the state reaffirmed that official recognition in multiple independently valid ways throughout the subsequent thirty-six years. Further, the Attorney General withdraws and nullifies any prior statements questioning the Tribe’s recognition status. In addition, the state is required to send letters to every relevant state and federal agency affirming our long-standing recognition. Also, the state will compensate the Tribe for a portion of our significant economic losses suffered by our tribal government contracting company during this battle, which will be used to both restore the company for the betterment of our tribe’s economic future and also to fund goals set in our previously approved tribal strategic plan.

Beyond our Tribe, this outcome has significant implications throughout Indian Country. The two other state-recognized tribes in New Jersey whose status was undermined will likely have their recognition reaffirmed through separate agreements in the near future. And tens of thousands of members of the more than sixty state-recognized tribes in other states may rest more easily. This settlement establishes that states may not retroactively undermine tribal recognition by violating a tribe’s rights to due process and equal protection of the laws.

We will immediately begin to reinvigorate cultural and community-building efforts for our people, hand-in-hand with partners old and new. We will be aided in this effort through the continuing assistance of our legal and policy counsel at Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, and with the prayers and support of neighbors near and far.

We hope and believe that this resolution will set the stage for the restoration of a positive, mutually respectful, and collaborative relationship between the Tribe, the State of New Jersey, and the government of the United States.

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation gives thanks the Creator for his blessings. We also express our profound gratitude to the following people and institutions whose efforts made this day possible:

  • Our Tribal elders, who fought for recognition decades ago, and who mustered the strength to fight for its restoration in their twilight years.
  • For their tireless and skillful efforts over six years to defend our civil rights, our legal counsel: Greg Werkheiser and Eden Burgess and their colleagues at the firm of Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, and Mr. Frank Corrado and his colleagues at the firm Barry, Corrado & Grassi, PC.
  • For filing court briefs in support of our cause as Amici Curiae(Friends of the Court): The National Congress of American Indians, The Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, The Indian Law Resource Center, the Salem Quarterly Meeting of the Society of Friends, The Greater New Jersey Conference of the United Methodist Church, and these parties’ legal counsel in this matter, Joseph A. Patella at Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP.
  • For their fair, impartial, and thoughtful administration of justice: The Hon. Renee Marie Bumb, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey; the Hon. Joel Schneider, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of New Jersey; and the Hon. Mitchel E. Ostrer, George S. Leone, and Francis J. Vernoia, judges for the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.
  • For his effective services as a mediator, the Hon. Dennis Michael Cavanaugh, United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (ret.).
  • For their expertise in assessing financial damages: Edward A. Gold, Stephen Holzen, and Scott Jones and their colleagues at the firm of Stout Risius Ross, LLC.
  • For their work championing the recognition of American Indians in New Jersey in decades past: the late Hon. W. Cary Edwards, former Attorney General of New Jersey, Jack F. Trope, former assistant General Counsel to two New Jersey Governors, and other honorable public servants in the state and federal governments.
  • For their wisdom in seeking resolution of this controversy: the Hon. Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey, and the Hon. Gubir S. Grewal, Attorney General of the State of New Jersey, and his colleagues.
  • For their neighborly love and encouragement: the people of Cumberland County, the Cumberland County Freeholders, the Hon. Mayor Albert B. Kelly and The City of Bridgeton, officials of Fairfield Township, the faculty and students at Monmouth University, and the staff of the Penn Museum.
  • For their constant well-wishes, individual supporters throughout New Jersey, the United States, and Indian Country.
  • For providing additional legal guidance in Indian Law, attorneys Judy Shapiro and Michael Anderson.
  • The news outlets and reporters whose regular, in-depth, and accurate coverage helped to shine a cleansing light, including, in alphabetical order: Tristan Ahtone for Aljazeera America; Thomas Barlas and Tyler R. Tynes for The Press of Atlantic City; Alex Bauer forRYOT; Cleve Bryan and David Madden and for CBS Phillyand KYW Radio Philly; Michael Booth for New Jersey Law Journal; the Editorial Board and Stephanie Maksin for South Jersey Times; Lisa J. Ellwood for Indian Country Today; Vince Farinaccio for SNJ Today; Chris Fry and Nick Rummell for Courthouse News; Bill Gallo Jr., Albert B. Kelly, Anna Merriman, and Don E. Woods for com; Aaron Kase for Vice Media; Vidya Kauri, Adam Lidgett, Jeannie O’Sullivan, Christine Powell, and Andrew Westney for Law 360; Cara McCollum for SJ Today; Kate Morgan for The Progressive; Geoff Mulvihill and Staff for the Associated Press, as published by the Washington Postthe New York Times, and many others; Jacqueline L. Urgo for; Megan Pauly for Delaware Public Media; Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein for VoiceAmerica; Staff; and Staff for Native News Today.


Chief Mark Gould

Appreciation of Public Service           

Friends have been in relationship with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation; we celebrate with them upon hearing Chief Gould’s message of gratitude. If led, Friends might find the following links helpful toward sending messages of gratitude:

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal

Legal council, Cultural Heritage Partners

Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape are Sovereign Tribe

NLL logo wiki


The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation citizens are neighbors of Salem Quarter Friends. As posted on the Salem Quarter Indian Affairs Committee web site, the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation is engaged in a lawsuit seeking reaffirmation, from the state of New Jersey – NLL v. NJ. Comprehensive ongoing media articles are posted by their legal council, Cultural Heritage Partners; and an update has also been posted by Lisa J. Ellwood, August 31, 2017 for Indian Country Media Network, providing clarity to the realities imposed upon this Native Nation and their citizens today. Please read this latest insightful release.

Guided by the still small voice within, Friends have accompanied the contemporary condition of authentic, sovereign Native Tribal Nations who have remained on their homeland, Lenapehoking, giving witness to the call for action and approval by the PYM Quaker Life Council (March 2017) for the formation of this First Contact Reconciliation Collaborative.

While fully discerning our PYM Minute of Action (2015), it is important for non-natives to understand how racism continues to be embedded in structures of the dominant society and to hear first-hand, genuine Native voice. The resilience witnessed in Native communities may spark that which has grown dim, righting us toward faithfully and intentionally building a most inclusive Beloved community.