"The Ramapoughs vs. the World"

"Will an oil pipeline proposed for tribal lands destroy the Ramapough Lenape Nation along the New Jersey-New York border? Or will it be the catalyst that once again unites the tribe?"

"The phone rang in his study and Dwaine Perry answered with the weary resignation of a man who knew what was coming. The sun was setting on a late March evening as Mr. Perry listened to the voice on the other end of the line. “Go on,” he said, drooping his chin into his neck. Then came an extended pause, followed by a well-practiced recital of sympathies and condolences. “Well, I’ll get to work,” he finally said before hanging up. Time to plan another funeral.

An elder of the Ramapough Lenape Nation had just died, and Mr. Perry, as chief of the tribe, was charged with leading a prayer on behalf of the community. He has grown woefully accustomed to this ritual. This was the second elder to die that month and the third in a year.

“That is what tribal life used to look like,” said Mr. Perry, retrieving a framed photograph from his bookshelf. In the image, decades old, he is guiding a prayer ceremony, surrounded by more than three dozen tribal elders. Now only six elders remain."

Noah Remnick reports for the New York Times April 14, 2017.

Source: NY Times, 04/14/2017